When the chequered flag fell on the 2008 French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours Lewis Hamilton was not yet a world champion, 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.
Liberty Media’s takeover of the F1 drivers seat saw many fans rejoicing in the new owner’s determination to see Grand Prix in the traditional heartland of the sport made a priority after years of selling F1 to the highest bidder in the latter part of Ecclestone’s reign.
Parc Ferme, Champagne, Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and lets not forget of course – Grand Prix – Formula One’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 the sport and so it was with much bonhomie that in 2018 F1 said Bienvennue to the French Grand Prix after a 10 year hiatus.
And so of the 16 venues to host a French Grand Prix its the Circuit Paul Ricard that picks 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 like Sepang and Bahrain did 30 years later. The track still retains those values today with its patented high grip blue and red run-off areas giving the circuit a distinctive look.
The circuit’s 2018 return was marred by poor organisation, leading to traffic chaos for fans traveling to the circuit. For 2019 organisers pulled in an even larger crowd and with a new, well thought out mobility plan, avoided a repeat of the gridlock.
Though the 2019 race would have put even the most dedicated insomniacs into a deep sleep, 2018 proved Paul Ricard to be a track where cars could race and overtake, given the right conditions. Throw in the charming vistas of the surrounding countryside, blanketed in vineyards, 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.