The “Summer Race” is this weekend on the Paul-Ricard circuit in Le Castellet, in the Var, for the Formula 1 Grand Prix de France. Beyond this powdery marketing name, it could above all be t act of the last F1 GP disputed on French soil since the contract which binds the Public Interest Group (GIP) to the Formula One Group (FOM), holder of the commercial rights of the discipline, ends this year. And negotiations are still ongoing between the two parties for a possible extension until 2027, as desired by the GIP.
The situation, mainly the attraction for F1, has changed radically since the last agreement with the arrival, in particular, of the Netflix series Drive to survivewhich attracted a multitude of new spectators to the discipline, and whetted the appetite of newcomers such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, or more recently Miami and Las Vegas. “Formula 1 has the privilege of having the wind in its sails and with this new enthusiasm, there are more destinations which wish to welcome it than dates on the calendar”, announces to 20 minutesEric Boullier, director of the Grand Prix de France.
With the problem of the price of the entry ticket when circuits like Saudi Arabia, Miami or Las Vegas pay around 50 million euros per year, against “only” around twenty million for so-called “historic” Grand Prix “, like that of France, Belgium, Spa, or Monaco. “There may be preferential treatment linked to seniority, but there cannot be too much difference in the price of entry to the set. If you go into a restaurant and you pay 150 euros for your steak, and I pay 30 euros for it, you wouldn’t be happy when you saw the bill”, image Jean Alesi, who would nevertheless like a GP of France for the “50 coming years “.
A concert to “offer a magical moment” to spectators
Consequently, the organizers of the Grand Prix de France are trying to stand out by all means, in addition to the race for crowds observed at several races since the start of this season, in particular in Barcelona, generating monster traffic problems, or at Silverstone. “We are going to exceed 200,000 people present over the whole weekend, which will be a new record. We have implemented a very ambitious mobility plan with limited access by car, in favor of alternative mobility. We are also the only Grand Prix organizer to have three stars in terms of sustainable development”, welcomes, as much as he wants to stand out, Eric Boullier.
He also wants to make the Grand Prix de France attractive thanks to “entertainment”, such as the return of a “concert on the main stage”, in order to “offer a magical, exceptional moment” to the spectators. Beyond the battles on the track, the Paul-Ricard circuit is not reputed to be the most thrilling race on the calendar.
Fixed “by the end of July”
Among the solutions mentioned, a possible alternation between several European historic circuits, such as Spa. “As soon as there are more candidates than dates, there are discussions on the possibility of a system of rotation and alternation between different GPs. We are at the beginning of the discussions, is the FIA ready to extend the calendar? We are in reflection and we must understand which direction F1 wants to take, ”said Eric Boullier.
But the president of F1, Stefano Domenicali, put a little more damage to the future of the Grand Prix of France on the circuit of Castellet by affirming recently to The team that a Nice GP could also be an option for the future of the discipline in France. Neither Renaud Muselier, president of the Paca region, nor Christian Estrosi, mayor of Nice who has nevertheless worked for a long time for the return of F1 to Le Castellet in 2018, wished to answer our questions on the future of the event in France. Proof of the delicacy of the file. Many environmental associations were quick to react, strongly criticizing this option.
Still, the Paul-Ricard circuit and the world of Formula 1 should be fixed quickly, in the words of Stefano Domenicali: “All I can tell you is that by the end of July you will know more about the future of your Grand Prix”. And why not this “Summer Race” weekend?