Paul Ricard gets makeover ahead of 2021 French GP

Tom Rawcliffe
Circuit Paul Ricard French GP

Circuit Paul Ricard French GP

Over two-thirds of Circuit Paul Ricard has been resurfaced in a bid to improve the racing experience for this year’s French Grand Prix.

Before 2018, the circuit had not been used in Formula 1 since 1990, and it did also miss out last year due to coronavirus restrictions in the area.

The sport will return to France in 2021, though, on the eighth race weekend of the season, in June.

Tasked with improving the track ahead of the Grand Prix was Studio Dromo – the company which has recently renovated Silverstone and Zandvoort.

Arguably the biggest change made is at turn five, which now has more of a crest to allow for easier draining, and it will now challenge the drivers as it lies “exactly in the middle of the racing line”.

Speaking of the changes to RaceFans, Dromo owner Jarno Zaffelli said: “We had the requirements to fix some corners from an asphalt perspective and while we were there, we said ‘OK, let’s do the maximum that we can do within the boundaries that we have’.

“It was more or less like Silverstone, we had to stay within that layout. We applied the same methodology that we applied before in Silverstone. We reprofiled all the corners that we basically resurfaced. The only one that was not reprofiled was turn 10, the other ones were just slightly changed.

“Some things for the drainage, some things for the overtaking manoeuvres and so on. So the same cure that we tried to apply in Silverstone.”

Sergio Perez French GP
Sergio Perez French GP

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Another change comes at turn seven, which heads onto the Mistral straight, where drivers will need to focus on their grip heading into the long straight where overtaking often happens.

Zaffelli has said the main aim has been to make it a smoother experience for the drivers.

“Definitely they will feel it’s much, much less bumpy in the newly-resurfaced area,” he explained. “In the parts that we didn’t do it – mainly straights – they will feel the bumpiness that was and when they go in the black area they will feel much smoother than before.

“They will feel some more support. For example, if you’re going into turn 11 they will feel more support. In the races that we had all around this year they already said that in turn 11 they will feel it.”

Despite so much of the track being updated, there are still further significant changes to come in the future, though these plans have been delayed for now.

The sport’s tyre supplier Pirelli requested a similar asphalt mixture to aid their gaining of data while they develop next year’s new tyres, and Dromo have also come across some advanced features while working on the track, making the job more costly and time-consuming.

Further plans have therefore been postponed for now, but Zaffelli is still hopeful the track has improved ahead of June’s French Grand Prix.

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