Le Castellet hosts the first of three GPs on consecutive weekends
The doyen of all Grands Prix returns to the calendar after an absence of ten years. The first race to be called a Grand Prix was held in France, 112 years ago at Le Mans. Back then, the track was triangular and measured 103 kilometres, of which 12 laps were required to make up the race distance. It was won by the Hungarian, Ferenc Szisz in a Renault, at a respectable average speed of 101.19 km/h.
Many years later, F1 as we know it began and the French GP moved around various circuits: Reims, Le Mans, Rouen, Clermont-Ferrand and Dijon. Then, before the Magny-Cours facility was built, the lion’s share of races took place at the Le Castellet Circuit, otherwise known as Paul Ricard. The last race was held there in 1990 and was won by Alain Prost driving a Ferrari 641. From then on, the track was used for testing, with facilities for watering the track, but with no permanent grandstands.
So now, the race returns to Provence with a race that kicks off F1’s first ever triple-header, with three GPs- France, Austria, Great Britain – one weekend apart, followed by a weekend off before two back-to-backs at Hockenheim and the Hungaroring. It makes for a very demanding schedule in the run up to the August break.