French Grand Prix set to return to Formula One

Ryan Ashenhurst
Ryan Ashenhurst
Ryan Ashenhurst
Contributor

After the bad news of the German Grand Prix being dropped for 2017, there is some positive news emerging regarding the return of the French Grand Prix. 

The Circuit Paul Ricard is set to return in 2018, after the French sport newspaper L’Equipe confirmed a new five-year deal at the circuit, which is owned by Bernie Ecclestone’s family trust, meaning that we’ll know where to go if the circuit is eventually dropped due to the crunching fee’s involved for circuit owners to affiliate their circuit with Formula one – Quite unlikely to happen in this instance.

LE CASTELLET, FRANCE - JANUARY 26: Daniil Kvyat of Russia and Red Bull Racing drives during wet weather tyre testing at Circuit Paul Ricard on January 26, 2016 in Le Castellet, France. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
LE CASTELLET, FRANCE – JANUARY 26: Daniil Kvyat of Russia and Red Bull Racing drives during wet weather tyre testing at Circuit Paul Ricard on January 26, 2016 in Le Castellet, France. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

It’s doubtful as a result that the reintroduction of Circuit Paul Ricard will be short-lived or as susceptible to folding like the German Grand Prix. On the announcement, Ecclestone said,

“Yes, I think it will happen”

– Bernie Ecclestone

The last Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard Circuit was in 1990, when, for a while, there looked to be a big upset on the cards as minnows Leyton House Racing managed to get their drivers Ivan Capelli and Mauricio Gugelmin running 1-2 for a large chunk of the race before Alain Prost caught them and won in his Ferrari 641.

Ivan Capelli of Italy drives the #16 Leyton House Racing Leyton House CG901 Judd to a second place finish at the French Grand Prix on 8th July 1990 at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, France (Photo by Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images)
Ivan Capelli of Italy drives the #16 Leyton House Racing Leyton House CG901 Judd to a second place finish at the French Grand Prix on 8th July 1990 at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, France (Photo by Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images)

The circuit has since been heavily updated but retains most of it’s traditional characteristics as a circuit, even if the gravel traps and grassy surroundings have been replaced by Tilke-like run-off areas that you could easily land an Airbus A350-1000 on.

It has to be good news overall though, the track is an exciting one that will fill-in for the loss of the German Grand Prix, keeping the slot on the calendar within Europe. The fact that the Grand Prix is expected to emerge in the German slot has further implications for the Nurburgring or Hockenheim returning, although the latter does still have its contract to host a Formula One race in 2018.