The “Summer Race” is this weekend at the Paul-Ricard circuit in Le Castellet, in the Var, for the French Grand Prix of Formula 1. Beyond this commercial name in powder, it could be mainly the act of the last F1 GP contested. on French soil since the contract that links the Public Interest Group (GIP) with the Formula 1 Group (FOM), holder of the commercial rights to the discipline, ends this year. And negotiations are still ongoing between the two parties for a possible extension until 2027, as the GIP wants.
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 survive, which 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 that want to host it than there are dates on the calendar,” he announces in 20 minutesEric Boullier, director of the French Grand Prix.
With the problem of the price of the entry ticket when circuits like Saudi Arabia, Miami or Las Vegas pay about 50 million euros per year, compared to “only” about twenty million for the so-called “historic” Grand Prix, as 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 pay 150 euros for your steak, and I pay 30 euros for it, you wouldn’t be happy when you saw the bill”, imagines Jean Alesi, who nevertheless would like a French GP for the “next 50 years”.
A concert to “offer a magical moment” to the spectators
Consequently, the organizers of the French Grand Prix are trying to stand out by all means, in addition to the crowd race observed in several races since the beginning of this season, in particular in Barcelona, generating monstrous traffic problems , or at Silverstone. “We are going to surpass the 200,000 people present throughout the 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 organizer of the Grand Prix that has three stars in terms of sustainable development”, congratulates Eric Boullier, as much as he wants to stand out.
He also wants to make the French Grand Prix attractive thanks to “entertainment”, such as the return of a “concert on the main stage”, to “offer a magical, exceptional moment” to spectators. Beyond the on-track battles, the Paul-Ricard circuit doesn’t have a reputation for being the most exciting race on the calendar.
Fixed “at the end of July”
Among the solutions mentioned, a possible alternation between several historic European circuits, such as Spa. “When there are more candidates than dates, the possibility of a system of rotation and alternation between different GPs is discussed. We are at the start of discussions, is the FIA ready to extend the calendar? We are reflecting and we need to understand what direction F1 wants to take,” said Eric Boullier.
But F1 president Stefano Domenicali put a little more of a damper on the future of the French Grand Prix at the Circuit de Castellet by recently stating in 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, however, has worked for a long time for the return of F1 to Le Castellet in 2018, wanted to answer our questions about the future of the event in France. Proof of file delicacy. Many environmental associations reacted quickly, strongly criticizing this option.
Still, the circuit Paul-Ricard and the world of Formula 1 must be fixed quickly, in the words of Stefano Domenicali: “All I can tell you is that at the end of July you will know more about the future of the your Grand Prize”. . And why not this “Summer Race” weekend?