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French Grand Prix returns to F1 schedule

The French Grand Prix is confirmed to return to the F1 schedule from 2018 at the Paul Ricard Le Castellet circuit.
After an absence of a decade, the French Grand Prix is to make a return to the Formula 1 schedule from 2018 at the Paul Ricard circuit.

Speculation of the race's impending return was sparked last week when Bernie Ecclestone revealed talks were at an advanced stage with circuit owners but the plans have now been officially confirmed at a press conference in Paris.

Despite the nation's historic association with the sport, the French Grand Prix has not hosted an F1 race since Magny-Cours' final appearance on the schedule in 2008, but with the German Grand Prix set for a prolonged absence after it was axed from the 2017 schedule, France was quickly earmarked as a 'successor'.

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The race is expected to assume Germany's mid-summer date slot close to the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The new deal will see F1 return to the south of France and the Le Castellet circuit, better known as Paul Ricard, which hosted F1 intermittently between 1971 and 1990, with a contract to run for five years.

Circuit owners have repeatedly expressed a desire to return the sport to French soil but has been unable to do so without financial assistance.

Though this deal hasn't been made possible by input from the French government, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, the city of Toulon, the Var departement and the French motorsport federation (FFSA) have stepped will support the round.

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Remembered for its demanding layout and fast layout - notably the 1.8km Mistral Straight -, Paul Ricard fell out of regular service after the 1990 French Grand Prix but a major overhaul saw it become a popular test venue during the 2000s before returning to premier motorsport hosting duties in more recent years, including WTCC, Formula Renault 3.5 and Formula 3.

The updated venue is one of the most technologially-advanced in the world, complete with 167 configurations, run-off areas featuring special material to slow cars down and built in sprinklers to dampen the circuit when necessary.

The arrival of F1 will see the circuit undergo another update to expand capacity, while it wasn't confirmed as to which layout will be used. There are likely to be calls to use the full length of the Mistral Straight, which is currently split by a chicane.

Romain Grosjean welcomes return of French Grand Prix (in French)

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December 05, 2016 2:30 PM
Last Edited 14 days ago

SkidCarrera: Nice news for the French teams and drivers, but Ricard has always been a dull, soulless place. The massive tarmac runoffs everywhere just give it the feel of a large car park with curvy lines painted on it. Now Dijon...there's a proper racetrack...
Dijon is a Grade 2 track unfortunately with no chance of ever hosting the French GP again without major work. On the commercial side Dijon is never going to attact IN NUMBERS the type of rich people that Le Castellet will with it being effectively on La Cote d'Azur (its most western corner).

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