It’s been a long time since we were heading to France for a GP. To be honest I’m not sure what to expect from the set up from a race point of view. We have tested in Paul Ricard many times over the years but obviously never raced there. It will be interesting to see what they have done in terms of grandstands for spectators as in testing there were none.
I think from a country point of view it’s great for France they have a race again considering Renault are a French team and the there is a long history of great French drivers.
I personally feel that the best races on the calendar are those that combine a great race with a great city and it’s here that Europe struggles in my opinion but the fan base and turnout in Europe is huge and a race in France means its accessible to many European fans.
The French GP in Magny Cours always used to fall on my birthday (and was never the most happening of events) and the new French GP in Paul Ricard does the same. When I think back to Magny Cours the one thing that always sticks in my mind was the price of the hotel (not that I was picking up the bill!). At the time it was one of the highest room bills of the entire season. €1000 per night, five-night minimum stay. That for a top five-star hotel at GP time in a good city is not unheard of but in Magny Cours we stayed in the Holiday Inn where the normal room rate was around €80 a night. It was the only hotel close to the track, so all the drivers and team bosses (and some of the lucky trainers) tended to stay there. It probably set the hotel up for the year.
Paul Ricard has a fair few options with regards the track layout. From a driver perspective most drivers would have tested here before but the track layout will slightly different to that used in testing. Drivers however learn new tracks quickly so a few corners that are different won’t be an issue.
Transport wise for us most races within Europe are easy to get to but none get easier than this as there is an airport right next to the track. We also stay in a hotel opposite the track so logistically it’s very easy. For most others in F1 it’s not so easy at all. There aren’t so many hotels close to the track and most of F1 will be staying down in Bandol or further afield. Bandol is a nice little place but I would imagine it will be a bit of a slog in the morning as there is only one road heading up from Bandol to the circuit. Time for staff to catch up on sleep on the way in at least 😉
This also marks the start of a crazy period in F1 where we have five races in six weeks. For the mechanics, catering staff and those from the management company running F1 it’s a relentless period where they literally tend to travel from one race to the next with very little time off. A lot of departments within different teams and companies working within F1 will try and rotate staff where they can but really, just looking at the catering staff in Ferrari and their schedule over the next six weeks it’s pretty brutal. Also, from a logistics point of view it’s not easy taking down the motorhomes and garages and transporting everything to a different country to rapidly set it all up in time for the mechanics to start working again on Tuesday. It’s a work of art to see it all in action.
Bon chance to all!