French Grand Prix
|Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours|
|Circuit length||4.411 km (2.741 mi)|
|Race length||308.586 km (191.755 mi)|
|Number of times held||86|
|Most wins (drivers)||Michael Schumacher (8)|
|Most wins (constructors)||Ferrari (17)|
|Last race (2008)|
The French Grand Prix (1906–1967: Grand Prix de l'ACF, 1968–2008: Grand Prix de France) was a race held as part of Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's annual Formula One automobile racing championships. The last race was held in 2008.
- 1 History
- 1.1 The world's oldest Grand Prix (1906-2008)
- 1.2 Absence (2009-present)
- 2 Sponsors
- 3 Winners of the French Grand Prix
- 4 References
- 5 External links
The world's oldest Grand Prix (1906-2008)
Public road circuits (1906-1924)
Grand Prix motor racing originated in France and the French Grand Prix, open to international competition, is the oldest Grand Prix race, first run on 26 June 1906 under the auspices of the Automobile Club de France in Sarthe, with a starting field of 32 automobiles. The Grand Prix name ("Great Prize") referred to the prize of 45,000 French francs to the race winner. The franc was pegged to the gold at 0.290 grams per franc, which meant that the prize was worth 13 kg of gold. The earliest French Grands Prix were held on circuits consisting of public roads near towns through France, and they usually were held at different towns each year, such as Le Mans, Dieppe, Lyon, Strasbourg, and Tours. Dieppe in particular was an extremely dangerous circuit- 8 people (4 drivers, 2 riding mechanics, and 2 spectators) in total were killed at the 3 French Grands Prix held at the 79 km (49-mile) circuit.
France's first permanent autodrome (1925-1937)
In 1925, the first permanent autodrome in France was built, it was called Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry, located near the French capital of Paris. The 7.7-mile (12.3 km) circuit included a 51-degree concrete banking, an asphalt road course and then-modern facilities, including pit garages. The French were prompted to build a racing circuit after the construction of Brooklands in 1907 and Indianapolis in 1908 prompted European nations to build banked racing circuits, and after World War I, Monza in Italy was opened in 1922, and Stiges-Terramar in Spain was also opened in 1923, followed by Montlhéry, and then the Nürburgring in Germany was built in 1927. The circuit drew huge crowds and they were witnesses to the spectacular sight of fast cars racing on Montlhery's steep banking and asphalt road course, which had many fast corners and was located in a forest. The first race at Montlhery was marred by the fatal accident of Antonio Ascari in an Alfa Romeo. Miramas, another permanent autodrome completed in 1926, played host to the race that year. Other circuits near towns such as Le Mans, Saint-Gaudens also played host to French Grand Prix, such as the fast 4.8-mile Reims-Gueux circuit in Northern France for 1932, where Italian legend Tazio Nuvolari won in an Alfa Romeo. But from 1933-1937 Montlhery would become the sole host of the event. The 1934 French Grand Prix marked the return of Mercedes-Benz to Grand Prix racing after 20 years, with an all-new car, team, management, and drivers, headed by Alfred Neubauer. 1934 was the year where the German Silver Arrows debuted (an effort heavily funded by Hitler's Third Reich), with Auto Union having already debuted its powerful mid-engined Type-A car for a race at AVUS in Germany. Although the Monganesque driver Louis Chiron won in an Alfa, the Silver Arrows dominated the race. The high-tech German cars seemed to float over the rough concrete banking at Montlhery where all the other cars seemed to be visibly affected by the concrete surface. Chicanes were placed at certain points on the very high-speed circuit in an effort by the French to slow the very fast German cars down for the 1935 race, but this effort came to nothing as Mercedes superstar Rudolf Caracciola won that year's race.
The French Grand Prix moved to the Reims-Gueux circuit in 1938, where the Silver Arrows continued their domination of Grand Prix racing. But when World War II began, the French Grand Prix did not come back until 1947, where it was held at the one-time Parilly circuit near Lyon. After that, Grand Prix racing returned to Reims-Gueux, where another manufacturer- Alfa Romeo- would dominate the event for 4 years. 1950 was the first year of the Formula One World Championship, but all the Formula One-regulated races were held in Europe. The race was won by Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio, who also won the next year's race- the longest Formula One race ever held in terms of distance covered, totaling 373 miles.
Reims, Rouen-Les-Essarts and Charade (1952-1972)
The prestigious French event was held for the first time at the Rouen-Les-Essarts circuit in 1952, where it would be held four more times over the next 16 years. Rouen was a very high speed circuit located in the northern part of the country that was made up mostly of high speed bends. But the race returned to Reims in 1953, where the circuit had been modified to bypass the town of Gueux, making it even faster. This race was a classic, with Fangio in a Maserati and Briton Mike Hawthorn in a Ferrari having a race-long battle for the lead, with Hawthorn taking the checkered flag. 1954 was another special event, and this marked Mercedes's return to top-flight road racing led by Alfred Neubauer, 20 years after their first return to Grand Prix racing- in France. After 2 wins for the works Maserati team that year, Fangio was now driving for the 3-pointed star of Stuttgart and he and teammate Karl Kling effectively dominated the race from start to finish with their advanced W196's. It was not a popular win- Mercedes, a German car manufacturer, had won on French soil- only 9 years after the German occupation of France had ended. The French Grand Prix was cancelled in 1955 because of the Le Mans disaster, and Mercedes withdrew from all racing at the end of that year. The race continued to be held at Reims in 1956, another spell at a lengthened Rouen-Les-Essarts in 1957 and back to Reims again from 1958-1961, 1963 and one last event in 1966. The 1958 race was marred by the fatal accident of Italian Luigi Musso, driving a works Ferrari, and it was also Fangio's last Formula One race. Hawthorn, who like many other F1 drivers at the time, held Fangio in very high regard; and was about to lap Fangio (driving in an outdated Maserati) on the last lap on the pit straight when, he slowed down and let Fangio cross the line before him so the respected Argentine driver could complete the whole race distance. Hawthorn won, and Fangio finished 4th.
Rouen-Les-Essarts hosted the event in 1962 and 1964, and American Dan Gurney won both these events, one in a Porsche and another in a Brabham. In 1965 the race was held at the 5.1 mile Charade circuit in the hills surrounding Clermont-Ferrand in the center. Unlike the straights that made up Reims and the fast curves that made up Rouen, Charade was known as a mini-Nürburgring and was twisty, undulating and very demanding. The short Bugatti circuit at Le Mans held the race in 1967, and the circuit was not liked by the Formula One circus, and it never returned. Rouen-Les-Essarts hosted the event in 1968, and it was a disastrous event; Frenchman Jo Schlesser crashed and was killed at the very fast Six Frere's corner in his burning Honda, and Formula One did not return to the public-road circuit. Charade hosted two more events, and then Formula One moved to the newly built, modern Circuit Paul Ricard on the French rivera in 1971. Paul Ricard was a new type of modern facility, much like Montlhery had been in the 1920s. It had run-off areas, a wide track and ample viewing areas for spectators. Charade hosted the event one last time in 1972; Formula One cars had become too fast for public road circuits; the circuit was littered with rocks and Austrian Helmut Marko was hit in the eye by a rock thrown up from Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi's Lotus; it ended his racing career.
The end of public road circuits, Paul Ricard and Dijon-Prenois (1971-1990)
Formula One returned to Paul Ricard in 1973; the French Grand Prix was never run on public road circuits like Reims, Rouen and Charade ever again. Paul Ricard also had a driving school, the École de Pilotage Winfield, run by the Knight brothers and Simon Delatour, that honed the talents of people such as Alain Prost, Didier Pironi and Jacques Laffite. The event was run at the new Prenois circuit near Dijon in 1974, before returning to Ricard in 1975 and 1976. The two venues alternated the venue until 1984, with Ricard getting the race in even-numbered years and Dijon in odd-numbered years (except 1983). 1977 saw a new part of the Dijon circuit built called the "Parabolique". This was done to increase lap times which had been very nearly below a minute in 1974, and the race featured a battle between American Mario Andretti and Briton John Watson; Andretti came out on top to win. Lotus teammates Andretti and Swede Ronnie Peterson dominated the race in 1978 with their dominant 79's, a car that dominated the field in a way not seen since Alfa Romeo and Ferrari in the early 1950s. The 1979 race was another classic, with the famous end-of-race duel for 2nd place between Frenchman Rene Arnoux and Canadian Gilles Villeneuve. It is considered to be one of the all-time great duels in motorsports, and Arnoux and Villeneuve banged wheels and cars around the fast Dijon circuit and Villeneuve came out on top, and the race was won by Arnoux's French teammate Jean-Pierre Jabouille, which was the first race ever won by a Formula One car with a turbo-charged engine. 1980 saw rookie Prost qualify his slower McLaren 7th and Australian Alan Jones beat French Ligier drivers Laffite and Pironi on their home soil, and the 1981 race was the first of 51 victories by future world champion Prost; driving a Renault, the famed French marque won the next 3 French Grands Prix. The 1982 event at Ricard was a memorable one for France- it was a turbo-charged engine/French walkover and 4 French drivers finished in the top 4 positions- each of them driving a car with a turbo-charged engine. Renault driver Rene Arnoux won from his teammate Prost and Ferrari drivers Pironi and Patrick Tambay finished 3rd and 4th. But this French triumph was internally sour- Arnoux violated an agreement that if he was in front of Prost, he would let him by because Prost was better placed in the championship; but he didn't, this was much to the chagrin of Prost and the French Renault team's management. Prost won the next year at the same place, beating out Nelson Piquet in a Brabham with a turbocharged BMW engine; Piquet had led the previous year's race but retired with engine failure.
Dijon was last used in 1984, and by then turbo-charged engines were ubiquitous; and Ricard hosted the race from 1985-1990. From 1986 onwards Formula One used a shortened version of the circuit, after Elio de Angelis's fatal crash at the fast Verriere bends. De Angelis was not injured by the crash, however his car caught fire and there were no marshals to help him, and he died of smoke inhalation. These 2 fast corners and the whole top section of the circuit was not used for the last 5 races. Prost won the final 3 races there, the 1988 one being a particularly dramatic win; he overtook his teammate Ayrton Senna on a dangerous part of the track and held onto the lead all the way to the finish, and the 1990 (by which time turbo-charged engines had been banned) event was led for more than 60 laps by Italian Ivan Capelli and Brazilian Maurício Gugelmin in underfunded Adrian Newey designed Leyton-House cars- 2 cars that had failed to qualify at the previous event in Mexico. Prost made a late-race charge and passed Capelli to take the victory; Gugelmin had retired earlier.
In 1991, the race moved to the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, where it stayed for another 17 years. The move to Magny-Cours was an attempt to stimulate the economy of the area, but many within Formula One complained about the remote nature of the circuit. Such highlights of Magny-Cours's time hosting the French Grand Prix include Prost's final of 6 wins on home soil in 1993, and Michael Schumacher's clinch of the 2002 championship, and the French Grand Prix was only the 11th race of the season. The 2004 and 2005 races were in doubt because of financial problems and the addition of new circuits to the Formula One calendar. These races went ahead as planned, but it still had an uncertain future.
On 29 March 2007 it was announced by the FFSA, the race promoter, that the 2008 French Grand Prix was put on an indefinite "pause". This suspension was due to the financial situation of the circuit, known to be disliked by many in F1 due to the circuit's location. On 31 May, Bernie Ecclestone confirmed (at the time) that the 2007 French Grand Prix would be the last to be held at Magny-Cours.
However, after various negotiations, the future of the race at Magny-Cours took another turn, with increased speculation that the 2008 French Grand Prix would return, with Ecclestone himself stating "We're going to maybe resurrect it for a year, or something like that". On 24 July, Ecclestone and the French Prime Minister met and agreed to possibly maintain the race at Magny Cours for 2008 and 2009. The change in fortune was completed on 27 July, when the FIA published the 2008 calendar with a 2008 French Grand Prix scheduled at Magny-Cours once again. The 2009 race, however, was again cancelled on 15 October 2008, with the official website citing "economic reasons". A huge makeover of Magny-Cours ("2.0") was planned, but cancelled in the end. The race's promoter FFSA then started looking for an alternative host. There were five different proposals for a new circuit: in Rouen with 3 possible layouts: a street circuit, in the dock area, or a permanent circuit near the airport, a street circuit located near Disneyland Resort Paris, Versailles, and in Sarcelles (Val de France), but all were cancelled. A final location in Flins-Les Mureaux, near the Flins Renault Factory was being considered however that was cancelled as well on 1 December 2009. In 2010 and 2011, there was no French Grand Prix on the Formula 1 calendar, although the Paul Ricard Circuit candidated itself for 2012. The French Grand Prix was not included in the released 2012 schedule, but there have been discussions about placing the event back onto the Formula 1 calendar, possibly splitting years with the Belgian Grand Prix. There have been a number of attempts to bring the French Grand Prix back, now with 4 French drivers on the grid (Grosjean, Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi and Jean-Éric Vergne). Alain Prost, who has been working to bring the race back, has stated that a 2014 French Grand Prix is "possible".
10 French drivers have won the French Grand Prix; 7 before World War I and II and 3 during the Formula One championship. French driver Alain Prost won the race 6 times at 3 different circuits; however German driver Michael Schumacher has won 8 times- the most anybody has ever won any Grand Prix. Monegasque driver Louis Chiron won it 5 times, and the Argentine driver Juan Manuel Fangio and British driver Nigel Mansell both won 4 times.
- Rhône-Poulenc Grand Prix de France 1988-1993
- Mobil 1 Grand Prix de France 1998-2004
- Allianz Grand Prix de France 2005-2007
- RBS Grand Prix de France 2008
Winners of the French Grand Prix
Repeat winners (drivers)
A pink background indicates an event which was not part of the Formula One World Championship. A cream background indicates an event which was part of the pre-war European Championship.
|Number of wins||Driver||Years|
|8||Michael Schumacher||1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006|
|6||Alain Prost||1981, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993|
|5||Louis Chiron||1931, 1934, 1937, 1947, 1949|
|4||Juan Manuel Fangio||1950, 1951, 1954, 1957|
|Nigel Mansell||1986, 1987, 1991, 1992|
|3||Jack Brabham||1960, 1966, 1967|
|Jackie Stewart||1969, 1971, 1972|
|2||Christian Lautenschlager||1908, 1914|
|Felice Nazzaro||1907, 1922|
|Georges Boillot||1912, 1913|
|Giuseppe Campari||1924, 1933|
|Robert Benoist||1925, 1927|
|William Grover-Williams||1928, 1929|
|Jean-Pierre Wimille||1936, 1948|
|Mike Hawthorn||1953, 1958|
|Dan Gurney||1962, 1964|
|Jim Clark||1963, 1965|
|Ronnie Peterson||1973, 1974|
|Mario Andretti||1977, 1978|
|Niki Lauda||1975, 1984|
Repeat winners (constructors)
Embolded teams are competing in the Formula One championship in the current season.
A pink background indicates an event which was not part of the Formula One World Championship. A cream background indicates an event which was part of the pre-war European Championship.
|# of wins||Constructor||Years won|
|17||Ferrari||1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1968, 1975, 1990, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008|
|8||Williams||1980, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 2003|
|7||Lotus||1963, 1965, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1978|
|6||Bugatti||1926, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1936|
|Alfa Romeo||1924, 1932, 1934, 1948, 1950, 1951|
|Renault||1906, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 2005|
|5||McLaren||1976, 1984, 1988, 1989, 2000|
|4||Brabham||1964, 1966, 1967, 1985|
A pink background indicates an event which was not part of the Formula One World Championship.
A cream background indicates an event which was part of the pre-war European Championship.
- Grand Prix century – The Telegraph, 10 June 2006
- ITV-F1.com 2008 French Grand Prix "Pause"
- ITV-F1.com Ecclestone Confirms Magny Cours Departure
- ITV-F1.com Magny-Cours set for reprieve
- BBC Sport Formula One hope for French Grand Prix
- "FIA reveals 18-race calendar for 2008". formula1.com. 27 July 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2007.
- "Grand Prix de France - Formule 1 : 28 juin 2009". Gpfrancef1.com. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- "19 June 2008". Grandprix.com. 19 June 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- "automobilsport.comautomobilsport.com 20 June 2008". Automobilsport.com. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- "20 June 2008". Motorlegend.com. 20 June 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
-  grandprix.com 19 June 2008
- "Euro Disney the next venue for French GP?". Asiaone.com. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- By Noah Joseph RSS feed (21 November 2008). "Disney Grand Prix plans shelved". Autoblog.com. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- Versailles possible for French GP
- "december 11 2007". Grandprix.com. 11 December 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- "Sarcelles bidding for a Grand Prix". Grandprix.com. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- "More details emerge from Flins-Mureaux". GrandPrix.com (Inside F1, Inc.). 16 March 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
- Noble, Jonathan (1 December 2009). "French GP plans suffer fresh blow". autosport.com (Haymarket Publications). Retrieved 1 December 2009.
- "Paul Ricard Confirme sa Candidature pour 2011". Autonewsinfo.com. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- "2014 French grand prix possible > F1 News >". Grandprix.com. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to French Grand Prix.|
- French Grand Prix Results, Live Timing, Quiz & Discussion
- Site officiel du Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours
- Official Website of the French Grand Prix