French GP return at Paul Ricard confirmed

The French Grand Prix will return to Formula 1 in 2018 on a five-year contract, after race organisers confirmed on Monday that a deal had been secured.

French GP return at Paul Ricard confirmed
Paul Ricard Circuit ambiance
Ivan Capelli, Leyton House CG901 Judd leads Alain Prost, Ferrari 641
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MP4-30

During a press conference at the Automobile Club de France headquarters in Paris, it was announced that Paul Ricard would be holding the event.

It will mark the return of the French GP to the calendar for the first since 2008, when it was last hosted by Magny-Cours in Nevers.

The Paul Ricard circuit held the event on 14 occasions between 1971 and 1990.

Key players for F1 have helped work on the deal and were present at the press conference, including McLaren racing director Eric Boullier and Renault F1 CEO Cyril Abiteboul.

Grand prix return "a huge victory"

Speaking at the press conference, Christian Estrosi – the head of the PACA region where the race will take place – said he was overjoyed that France had won its race back.

"Today I can announce clearly, firmly, and finally, the return of the French Grand Prix for the summer in 2018 in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, at the circuit Paul Ricard,” he said.

We are proud of this great return after 10 years. In 2018 it will be 10 years since the Grand Prix left the country, and this [return] is a huge victory for the men who worked for its success.”

He added: “When we know how motorsport is so popular in our country – and we are ambassadors and bearers of innovation, creation, research and development, it was for our country a real scar to lose the grand prix.

“Since then there have been several efforts - and I want to pay tribute to former Prime Minister Francois Fillon and FFSA president Nicolas Deschaux and many others who worked hard for the return of the race.”

Estrosi said that he also wanted to dedicate the return of the event to the memory of the late Jules Bianchi.

"I have a thought for our Nice driver Jules Bianchi, who has passed away. I want to dedicate this comeback to him,” he said. “My thoughts are with his family, to his dad.

I also want to think of others I have not known but who contributed to the success of French motorsport, such as Jean Behra, who remains for us a great figure of motorsport.

Stephane Clair, the general manager of the Paul Ricard circuit, said that efforts had been made to overcome potential problems like traffic access.

"We have always been optimistic because out site is up to the current standards of F1,” he said. “We talked with experts about technical issues and costs, to end certain preconceptions against us – like the alleged difficulties with access of spectator facilities.

"For the Bol D’Or in 2015, the traffic plan worked and that allowed us to accommodate 70,000 spectators. And this plan will evolve further by the French Grand Prix in 2018.”

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