Which of Paul Ricard’s 167 tracks should F1 use?

Debates and polls

The Paul Ricard circuit is expected to return to F1 in the near future as the French Grand Prix is set for a revival.

Formula 1 races have been held on two different versions of the track before. The original 5.8km (3.6-mile) track used was until 1985 and after that a shortened 3.8km (2.4-mile) version held the French race until 1990.

The circuit has been extensively renovated since F1’s last race there in 1990 and now boasts a staggering 167 different configurations, all of which can be seen in this document (PDF) on the circuit’s website.

A race could be held on a different variation of the track every season until the year 2180 – so far into the dim and distant future it’s possible Bernie Ecclestone may no longer be with us by then.

However some of these layouts are completely unsuitable for F1 – such as the sub-1km loops which don’t include the pit straight. And it’s much more likely F1 will pick a configuration and stick with it.

But which one? Here’s a few of the more likely and interesting options.

1A – 5.752km

Paul Ricard 1A

This track is the closest to the original Paul Ricard circuit currently available. It includes the high-speed Varrerie S-bend at the start of the lap and the flat-out Mistral straight leading into the famous Signes corner.

The race organisers are tipped to use one of the longer circuit configurations. Track director Stephane Clair told Autosport one of the longer tracks would be used, but it’s not clear which one.

Using the longer version of the track without a chicane in the Mistral straight would encourage teams to use more low-downforce set-ups – something which is seen at very few F1 tracks these days.

1A-V2 – 5.791km

Paul Ricard 1A-V2

This is a very similar configuration to the first one, but with a slightly slower version of Varrerie.

The European Le Mans Series used this configuration for their race earlier this month.

1C-V2 – 5.842km

Paul Ricard 1C-V2

Though it would be spectacular to see F1 cars tackling the entry to Signes at over 200mph, some consideration is being given to using one of the chicanes to interrupt what would otherwise be a flat-out 1.1-mile blast.

This would be unfortunate as recent experience at Abu Dhabi has shown that placing chicanes in the middle of straights is not a good way to promote overtaking.

Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne are familiar with this configuration – they raced on it in last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 meeting.

3A – 3.793km

Paul Ricard 3A

An alternative to using the chicane in the Mistral could be to return to the shorter track configuration which F1 used from 1986 to 1990.

With only nine corners (counting Beausset as two) this would be the simplest track on the F1 calendar – Monza currently has the lowest corner count with 11. At 3.793km (2.36 miles) it would be the second-shortest track on the calendar after Monaco.

We could expect an F1 race on the shorter track to have some of the qualities of the Brazilian round of the championship at Interlagos – a close grid thanks to the short lap length, and leaders kept busy lapping traffic.

It would also have the most laps of any race on the calendar today – 81 – which would be good news for spectators.

Version 2A is similar to this track but slightly longer at 4.087km (2.54 miles). I have suggested 3A as it is closest to the last version of the track F1 raced on.

Paul Ricard tracks compared

Potential distances of an F1 race on each track based on their lap lengths. F1 races must run to a minimum distance of 305km (189.5 miles). Monaco is an exception to this rule, running to a length of 260km.

Track Lap length (km) Race laps Race distance (km)
Paul Ricard 1A 5.752 54 310.608
Paul Ricard 1A-V2 5.791 53 306.923
Paul Ricard 1C-V2 5.842 53 309.626
Paul Ricard 3A 3.793 81 307.233

I say

Carlos Reutemann, Williams, Paul Ricard, 1980The likelihood Paul Ricard’s return to the F1 calendar will come partly at the expense of Spa-Francorchamps is very disappointing.

But that shouldn’t dampen our enthusiasm for seeing F1 cars return to a track they first raced at over 40 years ago.

The race organisers have indicated they would like to hold the race on the longer track. This only makes sense if they intend to use the full Mistral straight without the chicane.

Using the chicane would defeat the point of having the straight there and discourage teams from running their cars in low-downforce trim, which would distinguish the track from many of the other venues on the calendar today.

If it isn’t possible to run the full-length track without the chicane, then they should use a shorter configuration such as 3A.

A race on a busy track with a high number of laps – with lap times potentially dipping under 60 seconds – would make for a worthwhile break from the norm. Which is something the increasing homogenous F1 calendar badly needs.

You say: Which circuit should they use at Paul Ricard?

Which of the options above do you think would work best for F1’s return to Paul Ricard? Or should they use one of the 163 other variations of the Le Castellet track?

Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Which of Paul Ricard's 167 tracks should F1 use?

  • 1A ?ǣ 5.752km (55%)
  • 1A-V2 ?ǣ 5.791km (19%)
  • 1C-V2 ?ǣ 5.842km (10%)
  • 3A ?ǣ 3.793km (8%)
  • A different configuration (6%)
  • No opinion (2%)

Total Voters: 326

Loading ... Loading ...

An F1 Fanatic account is required in order to vote. If you do not have one, register an account here or read more about registering here.

Debates and polls

Browse all debates and polls

Advert | Go Ad-free

125 comments on Which of Paul Ricard’s 167 tracks should F1 use?

  1. Victor_RO (@victor_ro) said on 9th April 2012, 18:45

    Either 1A or 1A-V2. Going with 1A-V2 because of seeing it in action with the LMS cars for the last three years.

  2. Antonio said on 9th April 2012, 19:09

    I think that the best version is 1C-V2, because without the chicane, the straight would be much too long, about 2 km, and it will be a much much too easy overtaking zone. With the chicane, I think it would be tricky to take speed out of it – so it would separate boys from men…

    • Giuseppe (@giuseppe) said on 9th April 2012, 21:21

      Personally I would love to see such a long straight in Formula 1, but only if they don’t make it a DRS zone. ’cause if you have such a long straight and you also add DRS into the equation, then you’re right… overtaking would be a breeze.

      Without DRS things would be very different IMO.

  3. Dringdring (@dringdring) said on 9th April 2012, 19:21

    Sorry folks, but I’m not getting the arguement against a bit of run-off.
    I quite like the idea that someone can have a bit of a go into a corner and if it goes right – happy days, and if it goes wrong, then they ain’t out of the race, their tyres are bit dodgy for the next few corners and they’ve had a reality check, sure, stilll racing though, Punishment enough IMHO
    Guess I don’t like to see a red flag ;-)
    Yeah 1A-V2 for me too

  4. ozzy (@ozzy) said on 9th April 2012, 19:47

    Can we please just have SPA? instead of a billion-combination test track ? Of course not.

  5. Tim Katz (@timkatz) said on 9th April 2012, 20:50

    Interesting that the lead photograph in this article does not seem to conform to the circuit diagrams. On the PDF there are circuit configuration that show a short cut-through that avoids the long loop corner bottom left of the main photograph (eg TRACK SOLUTION 1A-V2-Short), but the cut-through is not visible on the photograph.
    I wonder which one is more recent/accurate – the PDF or the photograph.

  6. Icthyes said on 9th April 2012, 20:57

    Using the chicane would defeat the point of having the straight there and discourage teams from running their cars in low-downforce trim, which would distinguish the track from many of the other venues on the calendar today.

    If it isn’t possible to run the full-length track without the chicane, then they should use a shorter configuration such as 3A.

    A race on a busy track with a high number of laps – with lap times potentially dipping under 60 seconds – would make for a worthwhile break from the norm. Which is something the increasing homogenous F1 calendar badly needs.

    Which is exactly why we’ll probably get 1C-V2. F1 seems to have a fascination with slow twisty bits and token straights. Despite failure after failure of this kind of configuration the insistence upon a track that is roughly a certain length with a certain lap time continues.

    Personally I would go for 1A-V2-SC, for two reasons. Turn 1 would be tighter and make for an interesting start, plus a faster car following out of the last turn (but not close enough to overtake) wouldn’t have to suffer as much through the dirty air of a fast sweep. Secondly, the turn at the end of the Mistral might prove to be too aero-dependant for a car slipstreaming to be able to follow and attempt a move into the long right-hander; with the pinch, the cars would have to go a bit slower, plus we could see some daring moves into there if someone got a good enough tow down the straight.

    But after the bloated Austin, over-thought Buddh (though it seems great to drive), the quite frankly abysmal Korea and the disappointing tourist resort of Abu Dhabi, I’m not holding my breath for anything other than the familiar.

  7. StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 9th April 2012, 21:51

    I’d go with 1A, Closest to the original F1 layout & a pretty fast/flowing layout which when used in other categories has produced some decent racing.

    Just a shame Paul Ricard is now such an ugly track to watch racing on because of the striped tarmac runoff, Tarmac runoff that clearly works brilliantly to slow the cars down:
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1iikw_2005-f1-paul-ricard-testing-wurz_auto

  8. Anti-RBR (@matt2208) said on 10th April 2012, 0:16

    1A – 5.752km all day long. but there are better tracks out there they can go to. not really a fan of any track with so much run off.

  9. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th April 2012, 1:38

    I’ve just realised that there are two fantasically-quick corners at Paul Ricard – even faster than Varrerie – but they’re impossible to use.

  10. Hairpin said on 10th April 2012, 1:38

    1C V2 run anti-clockwise may be quite interesting but the runoffs would need some work !

  11. taurus (@taurus) said on 10th April 2012, 2:38

    There is a Tesco with an enormous car park near my house, I could paint a few lines in it and we’d have the same thing. Its as bad as a Tilkedrome.

    Only good thing about this place is its name.

  12. Que pista impresionante.

  13. Klon (@klon) said on 10th April 2012, 11:16

    Since I prefer having a track different from the norm to having a good circuit, I am very much in favour of Solution 2G-Short (page 123), that would be fun.

  14. Snafu (@snafu) said on 10th April 2012, 11:22

    I don’t think 1A layout with DRS will promote overtaking very much…the leading car would be sitting duck there.
    1C-V2 with two DRS zones and two detection points would be great!

  15. Alfisti37 (@alfisti37) said on 10th April 2012, 12:44

    Low-downforce set-up? I doubt it. I expect top speeds of only 320-325 km/h for the pole lap. This is certainly not that kind of Monza / Old Hockenheim low-downforce all of us are thristing for.
    The consecutive corners at the two ends and Varriere require downforce for cornering speed. If cars use low-downforce set-ups, speeds exceeding 325km/h can only be reached on the last quarter of the Mistral straight. Teams are very willing to sacrifice some top speed and have in return quick cornering speeds and a much later braking zone to Signes. A quick speed through Signes and Beausset can possibly gain more time than a higher top speed at the end of straight.
    Just look at Monza, the 2011 pole lap only has a top speed of 327 km/h. I don’t expect more top speed from Paul Ricard.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.