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Since the first races in 1902, the French Grand Prix has been hosted by an array of venues, including street circuits in the 50s. The Paul Ricard Circuit hosted the French Grand Prix from its debut in 1970 until 1990, when the event was moved to Magny-Cours, where it remained until 2008. Discussions continued for many years to bring the French Grand Prix back to Paul Ricard, and in 2016, it was announced that the Formula 1 Grand Prix would be hosted at the blue-and-red circuit once again in 2018. This marked a momentous occasion, as it was not only the first race at Paul Ricard since 1990, but the first French Grand Prix since 2008.
The Paul Ricard Circuit is known for its unusual design; built on a plateau, this circuit is extremely flat. It stands out with its the iconic blue and red painted runoff areas. The Red Zone, the deeper and more abrasive runoff area, circles the Blue Zone and gives the Paul Ricard Circuit its memorable, colourful look. This circuit is historically known for its challenging track, and many drivers crowned victorious at Paul Ricard would move on to win the World Championship as well.
This circuit boasts one of the longest straights in the World Championship, the Mistral straight. In the early days of the circuit this measured a formidable 1.8km. In 1986, the track was modified to shorten the circuit by adding a chicane in the middle of the Mistral Straight, bringing the total length of the track down to 3.8km. Further renovations ahead of the highly anticipated return to the circuit, saw 10,000 tons of asphalt used to resurface the track and pit lane. Additionally, four corners have been modified and the track has been widened at several points, while the Virage de Bendor has been re-shaped and shortened. As a result, the overall track length now comes in at 5.842 km.
The 2018 French Grand Prix was an exciting race, with at the time four-time Formula 1 World Champions Sebastian Vettel entering the race with a one-point lead over his rival, Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton quickly turned the tables on the Ferrari driver, taking first place on the podium and the Championship lead, while Vettel finished fifth. There was an understandable enthusiasm for local heroes Romain Grosjean and Pierre Gasly, with hopes of a French podium, however Max Verstappen took second place, and Kimi Raikkonen third. Valtteri Bottas broke the lap record during the race, but he then suffered a collision with Vettel which forced him to limp back to the pits with a damaged tyre. The second multi-car accident of the race was between Esteban Ocon and Grosjean, keeping the French driver away from a podium place on home track.