19 April 1970, saw the track opened with a Sports car race. At this time it was one of safest motor racing circuits in the world due to innovative facilities. In addition to the facilities, the layout having three permutations, an airstrip next door and a large industrial park, it is popular amongst teams for testing sessions.
Originally the track was dominated by the Mistral Straight which is 1.8 km long, quickly followed by the high-speed right hand Signes corner. this layout with various fast sections made the track very hard on engines. As such failures where seen some of which caused huge crashes such as the one that befell Ayrton Senna's in 1985's French Grand Prix When his Lotus' Engine failed and he went off backwards on his own oil. Other drivers suffered similar fates at that Grand Prix including Nigel Mansell in his Williams FW10 after the rear wing came off . It is this car that also holds the oroginal tracks lap record, set by Keke Rosberg in a time of 1:39.914.
The 1970s and 80s saw the track develop some the best drivers in France, such as Alain Prost who went on to win the F1 Title four times. The track continued to be used for a lot of testing sessions. 1986 saw Elio de Angelis killed in such a test. This resulted in modifications being made to the track, te mistral straight was reduced in length to 1Km and the Verierre curves removed. the track went to 3.812 km (2.369 mi) from its original 5.81 km (3.61 mi)
1990 saw the track host its last GP when it was moved to Magny-Cours.
During the 1990s the track was only used for national races and some motorbike. The Bol d'or 24-hour motorcycle endurance race. was raced there until 1999
Bernie Ecclestone's company Excelis bought the track in 1999, with this the track was rebuilt for advanced testing, and was for a time known as the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track (Paul Ricard HTTT)
The track has also hosted some races, including the 2006 Paul Ricard 500km, a round of the FIA GT Championship. Other GT championships such as the Ferrari Challenge and races organized by Porsche clubs of France and Italy, European le Mans Series have hosted events at the track. The ELMS and the FIA World Endurance Championship use it as the Season opening Prologue test sessions
On 5 December 2016, an announcement of the return of the French Grand Prix was made for the 2018 season and will be held in Circuit Paul Ricard. This will be the first French Grand Prix since 2008.
The track is also unusual in that it is built on a plateau, and is very flat. Being characterised by the Mistral straight (1.8 km) and its elongated track design The length of the full track is around 5.861 km (3.642 mi). By adding a chicane in the middle of the Mistral Straight the track was reduced in length. This shorter circuit is also known as the GP short circuit and is 2.369 miles (3.8 km) in length. It has multiple options of configurations 826 to 5,861 metres depending on which of it 167 layouts is used.
The track is known for its distinctive black and blue run off areas known as the Blue Zone. A second, deeper run-off area is the Red Zone, designed to maximize tyre grip and hence minimize braking distance. The final safeguard consists of Tecpro barriers, a modern improvement on tyre barriers.Courtesy: Wikipedia.
The circuit is almost impossible to reach without a rented car. From Marseille, you have to take the train to Aubagne and then to catch a taxi and to pay around 50-60 EURO the travel to Paul Ricard Circuit. Then, you have to walk 20 minutes from the entrance until the circuit. There have no shuttle from Aubagne or from entrance to the circuit even during big events.
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