Circuit Paul Ricard
When the chequered flag fell on the 2008 French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, Lewis Hamilton was on his way to his first World Championship; Mercedes were only in F1 as an engine supplier to a race-winning McLaren team, and the only cars Max Verstappen was driving were small and made out of LEGO.
Parc Ferme, Champagne, Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and of course Grand Prix — F1’s French connection is clear for all to see.
The first Grand Prix was held in France in 1906 and the country is one of a handful of countries that can claim to be the spiritual home of the sport. And so it was with much bonhomie that in 2018 F1 said Bienvenue to the French Grand Prix after a 10-year hiatus.
Of the 16 venues ever to host a French GP, it was the Circuit Paul Ricard that picked up the baton. The track was hailed as a new generation of Grand Prix circuit when it first held the race in 1971.
The venue raised the bar for circuit design and safety in F1 in a similar way to how Tilke’s modern masterpieces did 30 years later. The track still retains those values today — its patented high grip blue and red run-off areas giving the circuit a distinctive look.
Races haven’t always been the most exciting and some would put even the most dedicated insomniacs into a deep sleep. But there have been plenty of examples to prove Paul Ricard is a track where cars can race and overtake, given the right conditions.
Throw in charming vistas of the surrounding countryside and the stunning French Riviera and it all makes for a dream destination for an F1 trip.
With the average high daytime temperatures at this time of year at 25 degrees and rain unlikely, its safe to say you can leave your winter jacket behind on this trip and stock up on the Ambre Solaire.
I’m Danny, an incurable Formula 1 fan for over 30 years and founder of The F1 Spectator. My aim is to inform and inspire, arming you with helpful tips and advice for your next F1 trip.