French Grand Prix

French Grand Prix

Circuit Paul Ricard Information

Length of the circuit:              5.812 km

Direction:                               Clockwise

No of Laps:                           73

Race distance:                       309.96 km

Lap race record:                    1:32.740, Sebastian Vettel in a Ferrari, 2019

Last winner:                          Lewis Hamilton in 2019

2021 French Grand Prix

The 2021 French Grand Prix will be the 89th Grand Prix event held in France. Among them, 55 have been F1 World Championship events. France, unfortunately, missed out in the 1955 race because of the Le Mans disaster and from 2009 to 2017 due to financial difficulties.

The 2020 French Grand Prix was first deferred and then cancelled because of the Covid19 pandemic. But the FIA has included the race in the 2021 Formula One calendar year. This page will be updated when the actual schedule and the tickets are declared.

France is the home of automobile racing. The first competitive motor race of any kind was organised by the Automobile Club de France (ACF) in 1984. The French Grand Prix was held in 1906. France joined the World Championship in the inaugural tournament in 1950.

Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) was formed in 1904 to look after the interest of motorists and motoring organisations. More famous as the governing body of auto racing, the FIA also promotes road safety worldwide and is headquartered in Paris.

Only the Australian Grand Prix with 23 venues has surpassed the 18 venues used by the French Grand Prix over the years. That was because France built the first permanent autodrome only in 1925 at Montlhéry. Even then the French Grand Prix continued migrating through various venues across the nation.

What are the origins of the French Grand Prix?

In 1894, the Automobile Club de France organised the first motor race. It was called Paris to Rouen Horseless Carriages contest. Following the success of the race, races were organised to various other cities and towns in France and later to the cities of Europe.

These races were run on public roads and without any crowd control over the public. In 1903 a race was organised from Paris to the Spanish capital Madrid. Competitors in the race touched speeds of 140km/h but the race had to be called off by the French government because there were too many accidents, fatalities and causalities.

In 1906 the first French Grand Prix, meaning Great Prize, was open to international competition and was organised by ACF. The term ‘Grand Prix’ was borrowed by other races and became a norm for a F1 race. The race started in Le Mans and after touring through several villages finished back in Le Mans.

The race was run on a closed circuit consisting of public roads made of dirt. Ferenc Szisz of Hungary won this gruelling 12-hour race. Other Grands Prix were held at different towns and cities through France and motor racing was held primarily on public roads.

The 1914 motor race was run on a 23-mile circuit near Lyons and is famed among the pre-War battles in France. It was a duel between the Italian Ducati and The German Mercedes The Mercedes won the race because their Continental tyres lasted much better than the Ducati’s Dunlop. Mercedes won the event comfortably.

Motor racing in France was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War. France suffered a lot of damage and the Grand Prix could not be staged till 1921. Jimmy Murphy, an American won the first Grand Prix after the First World War.

In 1925 the French inaugurated the first permanent autodrome 33 km south of Paris called the L’Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry or Autodrome Montlhéry. The Grand Prix held at Montlhéry that year was the Inaugural event of the World Manufacturers’ Championship.

The Grands Prix were held at different venues around France over the years . In 1931 Montlhéry became a host to another championship, the European Championship which began that year. The races of 1938 and 1939 were held at Reims-Gueux.

World War II put a stop to all motor racing in Europe and France was occupied by Germany. The French took till 1947 to come back to motor racing. A one-time race was held at the Parilly circuit near Lyons.

The racing then shuffled between Reims, Parrily and Saint-Gaudens. In 1950 the inaugural year of the World Championship the honour of holding the Grand Prix went to Reims.

When did France enter the F1 World Championship?

In 1950 the FIA constituted the FIA World Drivers’ Championship. It selected the six Grand Prix held in Europe and the Indianapolis 500 held in America. The race was held among open-wheeled FORMULA 1 cars and Grand Prix de L’ACF (France) was one of the chosen races.

The first World Drivers’ Championship was held at Riem in 1950 and Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina won the race in his Alfa Romeo. Alfa Romeo made a clean sweep of the 1950 World Driver’s Championship, winning all the three podium places.

In 1951 drivers Luigi Fagioli of Italy and Juan Manuel Fangio switched their Alfa Romeos during a pit stop. Fangio won the race and Fagilio finished 22 laps short. The FIA later declared Fagilio as the joint winner of the 1951 French Grand Prix.

Italian Alberto Ascari won the 1952 Grand Prix at Rouens driving a Ferrari. In 1953 and 1954 the Grand Prix returned to Reims and while Briton Mike Hawthorn (Ferrari) won the 1953 race, Juan Manuel Fangio won his third World Championship race in a Mercedes in 1954.

There was a catastrophic crash during the 24 Hours de Le Mans in 1955. French driver Pierre Levegh in a Mercedes crashed into Lance Macklin Aston-Healy at high speed from behind. As a result, Levegh’s car launched into the air and skipped over the earthen berm at 200 km/h.

The car collided at two places in the spectators’ area and disintegrated. Levegh was killed instantly when he was thrown back onto the track. Eighty-three spectators were killed and 180 were injured. The 1955 French Grand Prix was cancelled and Mercedes retired from motor racing until 1989.

The French Grand Prix continued to be held on road circuits like Reims, Rouen and Charade in the hills surrounding Clermont-Ferrand. Reims hosted the event in 1956, 1968 to 1961, 1963 and the last one in 1966. From 1967 the event was organised at Le Mans, Rouens and Charade till 1969.

When did the French Grand Prix move to different race circuits?

In 1967 Le Mans was the venue for the French Grand Prix, but the F1 circus let it be known that they did not like the circuit because it was a remote venue. The event hosted by Rouens-Les-Essartes the following year was a disaster in which the Frenchman Jo Schlesser crashed and was killed.

By the time Charade hosted two more Grands Prix in 1969 and 1970, Circuit Paul Ricard was ready. Circuit Paul Ricard with run-off areas, wide roads and plenty of space for spectators was a modern racing circuit and held the event in 1971.

Circuit Paul Ricard had a driving school that contributed towards the development of France’s only Formula One World Champion Alain Prost. Grand Prix winners Didier Pironi and Jacques Laffite are also the products of the Paul Ricard driving school.

Charade was the venue of one more French Grand Prix before the event returned to Circuit Paul Ricard in 1973. In the following year, the F1 event was organised at the Prenois circuit close to Dijon. F1 pilots were impressed with the fast, sweeping bends on the undulating track.

The French Grand Prix alternated between Circuit Paul Ricard and the Prenois circuit between 1973 and 1984. Circuit Paul Ricard, however, got to host consecutive events in ‘75-’76 and in ‘82 and ‘83. Thereafter Circuit Paul Ricard got the opportunity to hold the event six years in a row till 1990.

After that French Grand Prix event was held at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. Located in central France, this circuit is near the towns of Nevers and Magny-Cours. It is 240km from Paris and hosted the French Grand Prix from 1991 to 1988.

Called Magny-Cours, the circuit also houses the L’École de Pilotage Winfield (Winfield driving school). The school produced French motor racing stalwarts like François Cevert, Jacques Laffite and Didier Pironi.

In the ‘80’s the circuit had deteriorated and had stopped being used for international races like before. The track was purchased by the Departemental Counseil de la Nièvre and brought back into shape.
The circuit was rewarded with the rights to host the 1991 Grand Prix event. The Magny-Cours circuit monopolised the event till 1988 when France stopped the World Championship races because of financial problems.

Michael Schumacher became the first driver to win 8 World Championship races at a single Formula 1 Grand Prix. There were hopes that the French Grand Prix would continue through to 1989 at Magny-Cours but the event was cancelled as with the official website citing economic constraints.

By this time ten Frenchmen had won the French Grand Prix. Seven of them won before World Wars I and II. Louis Chiron, the Monégasque, won the French Grand Prix 5 times before the Formula One Championship began either side of World War II.
Juan Manuel Fangio won Four of the events along with the inaugural year of the Formula One Championship. Later Nigel Mansell won 4 French Grands Prix and the Frenchman Alain Prost, 5 in the ‘80s and the early ‘90s.

But Michael Schumacher overhauled all of the previous French Grand Prix masters by winning the Most Grand Prix at a single Grand Prix. He won a total of 8 French Grands Prix. The Brazilian Filipe Massa won the last French Grand Prix held at Magny-Cours.
That the French Grand Prix would return to Circuit Paul Ricard in 1918 was confirmed in 1916. Circuit Paul Ricard holds the rights to hold the event till 2022 with further plans kept open. After two events in 2018 and 2019, The 2020 French Grand Prix was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Circuit Paul Ricard is due to host the 2021 French Grand Prix and further, it calls for a closer look at the circuit.

When was the Circuit Paul Ricard built?

Circuit Paul Ricard was built by the ‘pastis’ magnate Paul Ricard at Castellet, not far from the South East coast of France. Ricard was known to be slightly eccentric and he wanted to build a highway through his land and test it.

His friends and associates convinced him that building a race track would solve the same purpose and would probably give him more returns on his investments. Ricard agreed and construction of the track started in 1969 and the track held a 2.0 litre car race in 1970. ACF officials inspected the track and immediately agreed to make it a venue for the Grand Prix.

Le Castellet, is just off the coast of the Balearic Sea and has mild winter weather. It had an industrial park and an airstrip within the circuit area. A wide track, run-off areas and a lot of spectator accommodation made it popular among Formula One team management and the pilots.

The circuit first hosted the Formula One French Grand Prix in 1971. Since then it has become a regular feature of the Formula One calendar year. During the ‘70s and the early ‘80s, it hosted the event alternatively with the Dijon-Pernois circuit.

From 1985 Circuit Paul Ricard hosted the French Grand Prix till 1990, a stretch of six years no other circuit had matched before. Autodrome de Montlhéry, a modern circuit at the time, had held the French Grand Prix for five years consecutively before World War II.

What is Circuit Paul Ricard like?

Circuit Paul Ricard was the fastest in the world in the ‘70s and the ‘80’s. The 1.8 km long Mistral straight was followed by a fast left hand Singes Corner. Along with the other fast sections and the long main straight the track put extraordinary demands on car engines.

Starting in 1971 the circuit hosted 14 F1 World Championship events till 1990 and 2 more after the long 10-year hiatus of the French Grand Prix. Circuit Paul Ricard produced many stalwarts of French motor racing including the only Frenchman to win the World Drivers’ Championship, Alain Prost.

Grand Prix winners Didier Peroni and Jacques Laffite along with Alain Prost tested their cars on the circuit. Alain Prost made the best of the circuit winning 4 of his 6 French Grand Prix championships. He won the 1983 French Grand Prix and then won 3 in a row from 1988 to 1990.

How was Circuit Paul Ricard from 1971 to 1985?

The circuit is narrow and is located on a plateau in Le Castellet above the French Riviera between Marceille and Toulon. With Paul Ricard’s private airstrip alongside F1 teams and Drivers really love the still fast track with wide run off areas.

The main straight is one kilometre long and the first turn, the Esses de la Varriere is 3.4 km from the starting line. The pit lane runs just inside the main straight, begins at the end of the last turn and joins the main straight after 300m.

As the circuit dips through the quick left and right S, drivers increase their speed only to brake for La Chicane. The chicane made of Turns 3 and 4 which are wide but a slow right-left combination. The chicane is sometimes called La Hotel Chicane.

The drivers then arrive at Turn 5, the tightest on the lap, an acute right ahnd turn that leads the cars into a much more liberal right Turn 5. The “Comp’ and the Sainte-Beaume are two almost right angled right handed turns.

The first one is quite acute and the latter a faster turn. Drivers need a lot of tactical acumen to line up and speed past the gentle left-handed L’Ecole turn and down the long Mistral Straight. On the straight, pilots use all the horsepower they can muster out of the cars.

The Ligne Droit du Mistral is as straight as a straight can be and is all of 1.9 km long. Some cars along this straight better 350 km/h when the wind is coming down from the Alps. If the wind is blowing the other way, cars might make 300 km/h.

Competitors are known to overtake each other 2 to 3 times before braking for the Signes Turn which is Turn 8 on the circuit. Two-third of the way down the Mistral Straight, is the Signes curve. Although the Signes right-hander is gentle, drivers are careful because they are heading into the toughest portion of the lap.

Turn 9, Double Droite du Beausset, is a gentle right-hand turn that turns the cars more than around. A fast right-left at Esses the Bandor leads to the 90-degree left-hand l’Epingle (The Pin).
A sweeping right-hand curve named Le Village is followed by a gentle left called Virage de Tour. Hardly two hundred meters down the track looms the second tightest and the last turn of the lap, Turn 14.

Virage du Pont is a tight 135-degree right-hand turn that leads either to the pits on the driver’s right or straight to the start/finish line. Drivers line up for the one-kilometre long main straight with great tactical skill.

The circuit was fast and the F1 drivers enjoyed driving on it. The team management, on the other hand, was praying that the car engines do not blow up. The organisers and the spectators were unhappy because the cars went past their stands only 54 times.

How was Circuit Paul Ricard from 1986 to 1990?

Circuit Paul Ricard was the fastest in the world in the 70s and the early ’80s. The 1.8 km long Mistral straight was followed by a fast left hand Singes Corner. Along with the other fast sections and the long main straight, the track put extraordinary demands on car engines.

Falling behind safety requirements over time
Although the track was far ahead of the FIA safety requirements in the 1970s, it was falling behind by the mid-1980s. In 1982 Mauro Baldi and Jochen Mass collided at the Signes turn. Jochen Mass’ March crashed through the fencing and into the tyre barricades and caught fire.

Ayrton Senna’s Renault engine stalled in 1985 at the Signes corner after racing down the Mistral straight. At the same turn, The car went backwards on its oil and crashed heavily. Senna escaped with a few bruises.

Nigel Mansell had a slow puncture after pushing his car to the limit along the straight and crashed at the same corner. The same year, the Swiss driver reached a speed of 338 km/h on the 5.81 km long circuit, the fastest speed recorded for an F1 car at the time.

The circuit was extensively used to test F1 cars and in 1986 the Elio de Angelis, an Italian F1 driver crashed while testing a Brabham F1 car and died. Elio de Angelis died because there were no marshals on that part of the track. After all, it was considered a safe sector.
Elio de Angelis died in a hospital 29 hours later. This and other factors led to a massive modification of Circuit Paul Ricard. These modifications and others shortened the length of the circuit from 5.81 km to 3.183 km.

Corners were cut and the lap times reduced drastically. Nigel Mansell recorded a lap time of 1:32.462 in 1990 to Keke Roseberg’s 1:32.462 in 1985 when qualifying. The number of laps required for the Grand Prix increased from 80 from the previous 54.

Massive changes made to the track
The north end of the track was wiped off the map. The circuit was reduced by more than 1/3rd of its length. La Bretelle, a right hand 110-degree corner was introduced. After about 200 meters and another right-hand turn, the competitors emerged on the Mistral straight.

The length of the Mistral straight was reduced to just less than 1.1 km. The main straight was also reduced by 160 meters. The drivers thought such drastic reductions to the track was an overreaction by the organisers.

But the car constructors were pleased because engines would blow out less frequently. The organisers and the spectators were overjoyed because the cars passed by 80 times instead of the previous 84. Lap times were reduced and Nigel Mansell recorded a pole time of 1:04.402 in 1990 to Nico Roseberg’s 1:32.462 in 1985.

In 1991 however, the French Grand Prix moved to the Mangy-Course circuit which is located in central France in Nevares. The circuit organised the event for 18 years before expressing its inability to organise the French Grand Prix in 2009.

When did the French Grand Prix return to Circuit Paul Ricard?

The track is renovated
In 1997, Paul Ricard, the founder of the circuit died. The circuit was purchased by a company owned by Bernie Eccelstone, the then CEO of the Formula One Group. Eccelstone developed the circuit as an advanced Test track.

The circuit was called the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track (Paul Ricard HTTT) after 1999. In 2016 Bernie Eccelstone himself announced that the French Grand Prix will return to Circuit Paul Ricard. The F1 world was jubilant.

The 50-year-old circuit needed quite a bit of work to be done to bring it up to the mark. The track features possible 160-course variations. Several changes have been made to slow cars down and make the circuit more competitive and safe.

The Verrarie Esses has been introduced, cutting the original Mistral Straight into half. The part before the S is called the Ligne Droit du Mistral and the following part of the track, the Mistral Straight. The Verrarie S has three options out of which F1 cars use the slowest and the sharpest.

The S Bendor has disappeared and the gentle L’Epingle has become tighter. The last corner of the Virage du Pont and the first one before the start-finish line has been tightened. The new circuit, 5.842 kilometres in length, is referred to as the 1C-V2.

Further changes to the track in 2019
A new pit building was built before the 2018 French Grand Prix to replace the old one. In 2018 the pit lane began just after the last turn and before the start/finish straight. The lane also exited on the straight and increased the risk of collision with an approaching competitor.

The pit lane was extended in 2019 with cars entering the lane at the exit of the penultimate turn of the circuit. This gives the cars more time to slow down and meet the speed limit of 60 km/h. The cars now exit the pit lane further up the Main straight.

Taking the pit lane exit further gives the cars enough distance to pick up and join the Main straight at a comfortable speed. These changes have allayed fears that there might be collisions between cars exiting the pit lane and those coming on the circuit.

The track has unique red, white and blue runoff areas. The runoff areas are not only distinctive by their colour but by their function. The runoffs have a mixture of asphalt and tungsten on their surface instead of the conventionally used gravel.

This coat is designed to slow down the cars once they have run off the track and reduce their braking time. A red-coated runoff area after the black and blue is even more abrasive. It not only slows down cars, but takes a massive toll on the car’s tyres.

Trepco barriers are the last safeguard for cars that stray from the track. There are complaints about lenient penalty points at the French Grand Prix. But once a driver strays into the runoff area, the speed that he loses and the time he takes to recover more than makes up for the leniency on penalties.

Why go to the French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard?

Location, location, location
The French Riviera itself is a special place and is in the south of France. It has the wind blowing forms the Alps while the wind blows on the other from the seas off the Mediterranean. The summer on the French Riviera is guaranteed good weather.

If the Grand Prix itself is not an excuse enough there are a lot of villages and towns close by and stunning beaches to visit. In July when the French Grand Prix is usually scheduled, the sun smiles down warmly on Côte d’Azur.

This area of France is also renowned for its excellent cuisine. Add to that a superlative choice of wines. That is why most Europeans and even French head to Côte d’Azur in the summer. You can enjoy the French Grand Prix as well as summer on the French Riviera.

It’s a joy to watch the cars and drivers tested thoroughly
Although Circuit Paul Ricard is no longer the fastest circuit in the world, The French Grand Prix an enlightening experience for an F1 fan. The cars are tested to the fullest and the drivers for their concentration and their perseverance.

Drivers might hit a top speed of 320 km/h along the first half of the Mistral Straight. But they have to brake hard to tackle the Verrari Esses and accelerate again. A short while later they encounter the Signes turn and have to slow down.

That is the moment to enjoy F1 racing. The drivers don’t brake on the Signes turn but let the engine cut the speed as they take their foot off the pedal. They then negotiate the curve while struggling with a lateral pull of 5G to keep the car on the track and gain an advantage on the competitors.

If a driver over or understeers, he is likely to go off the track, But the runoff areas on Circuit Paul Ricard are built to slow down racing cars. A lot of time is lost by the time the driver recovers and gets his car on line. The runoff areas are also abrasive and take a toll on the tyres.

Plenty of overtaking chances
The two overtaking areas are obvious. The first one is at the first turn and the turns following it. The track is wide enough to let cars shoulder to shoulder. If a driver lines up before the first turn where there is a good braking zone he could overtake the car in front on either side on turn two.

The second chance a driver gets of overtaking is on the Mistral Straight. Cars are flat out as they enter the straight and there is a good braking zone before the left-right chicane midway down the straight. Drivers could either make a move to overtake a car or defend their position on the complex.

Then there is further free run after the Verrarie Esses and the Signes curve. This too gives opportunities to tail leading cars and make a bid for passing. With the aerodynamics restrictions stipulated this year, it will be easier for cars to tail others and hence more passing opportunities.

A colourful, boisterous and partisan crowd
After a 10 year hiatus, French fans were starved of a World Championship race. They descend in hordes on Circuit Paul Ricard as was evident in 2018 and 2019. Whom will they be rooting for?

They will be rooting for Renault and Romain Grosjean, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.

In short, the French will be backing anybody and everything that is French and understandably so. Don’t be surprised if you see a sea of red. And the French F1 fans do love to make themselves heard. Expect a lively atmosphere at the French Grand Prix.

An exceptional tourist destination
Le Castellet, the commune located in the Var department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France. The place is famous for its old heritage buildings and is located on a cliff edge. Tourists flock to Le Castellet in the summer and not just for the French Grand Prix.

Marseille was crowned as Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2013 is just 40 kilometres away from Circuit Paul Ricard. The city is steeped in culture and history and some of the buildings date back to the sixth century. You can admire the ancient brickwork of the buildings.

Sainte-Baume is just over an hour’s drive from Circuit Paul Ricard. Sainte-Baume Grotto is the place most sought after by visitors to the village. The grotto is believed to be the tomb of Mary Magdalene. Locals and the Church attribute many miracles to the grotto.

Don’t forget that Côte d’Azur is world-famous for its cuisine and wines and hospitality. You will find plenty of restaurants, pubs and nightlife in Marseille. Pubs and eating places also abound in the countryside.

How much are tickets for the French Grand Prix?

The 2020 French Grand Prix was first deferred and later cancelled both by the FIA and the French Government. Although the French Grand Prix has been included in the FIA’s F1 World Drivers’ 2021 calendar year, the dates and the tickets are yet to be announced.

In the absence of the information, we will refer to the tickets announced for the 2020 French Grand Prix. Whenever the schedule and the tickets for the 2021 French Grand Prix are announced we will update this page with the latest information.

Circuit Paul Ricard has a spectator capacity of 9000 spectators. There are just five grandstands on the circuit. There are also general admission areas where spectators can watch the proceedings.

Only two of the grandstands are covered and are worth trying given the hot sun and the high temperatures during the French Riviera summer. In 2018 there was a problem with the traffic at the venue. The organisers sorted that out in time for 2019 but attendance dropped drastically.

●      The runoff areas at Circuit Paul Ricard are wide and set the grandstands a way back from the track.
●      You can choose a section in a grandstand but the seats are not numbered. You have to simply opt for the best seat available.
●      Children below 6 are granted free entry but they are not allowed to occupy seats. Children above six and below 13 years of age are granted a 50% discount while children aged 13 and above have to buy a full ticket.
●      The grandstands at Start/Finish and those at Virage du Pont are covered. No other grandstands are covered.

We recommend visiting Motorsport Tickets for French Grand Prix tickets.

Where are the best places to watch the French Grand Prix?

The grandstands at Circuit Paul Ricard are situated at the start-finish section and crucial turns along the circuit. We will go through all the grandstands and bring to you what you are likely to see in each of them.
Start-Finish Grandstands
As on any circuit, these grandstands give a spectator the best view of the action in the pits. The gold seats in this grandstand are covered and a seat in these grandstands will give the spectator a good view of the podium celebrations.
Sainte-Baume Grandstands
Seated in one of these grandstands, gives the spectator a view of the cars as they turn into Virage de le Hotel. After that, the cars tackle the tight right-hander and then go around the Virage du Sainte-Baume as they position themselves to take on the Mistral Straight.
Chicane Grandstands
The 1.8 km long Mistral straight is broken into two smaller straights by a chicane (Verrare Esses). The Chicane Grandstands are located around this chicane. Grandstands 3 and four are at the apex of the chicane and give a good view of the cars.
Grandstands 5 and 6 are located further south and are the best stands to get the frontal view of the cars as they approach the chicane. A big television screen across the track keeps you updated no matter which stands you are seated in.

Le Beausset Turn Grandstands
The four Le Beausset Grandstands are located around the two apexes of the sweeping right hand Le Beausset turn. Those seated in Grandstands 2 and 3 will get a better view of the proceedings along with the turn than those seated in Grandstand 1.
Grandstand 4 is a Family Grandstand and offers discounted tickets for children. All the grandstands on the Le Beausset turn are uncovered and further away from the track than most other grandstands. As a result, they offer the poorest view of all other grandstands.
Virage du Pont Grandstands
These grandstands are located around the last two turns of the circuit. The first one is a relatively high speed 15o degree bend. The last corner slows the cars down to around 80 km/h and presents a good photo opportunity. Large TV screens enable you to keep in touch with the action throughout.
General Admission Areas
There are three major general admission areas on Circuit Paul Ricard among which the one on the short straight before the Le Beausset turn is the largest. There is one on the outside of the Virage Sainte-Baume.
Another general admission area is at the beginning of the Mistral Straight. These areas are uncovered and do not have the benefit of a TV screen. You might get a good place to view the action if you arrive at the circuit early.

How do you get to Circuit Paul Ricard and around?

Marseille is the second-largest city in France and is just 40 km away from Circuit Paul Ricard. Its airport, Aéroport de Marseille Provence (Marseille Provence Airport) is the fifth busiest airport in Frane and is connected to many international destinations.
If you are flying in from another continent and do not have a direct flight to Marseille Provence Airport, you can switch flights at any European capital and land in Marseille. Alternatively, you can drive in from any European destination. Only make sure that your vehicle has international insurance coverage.
Once you reach the airport, you can ride in a taxi or take a bust to Marseille or direct to Circuit Paul Ricard. If you own a jet or can hitch a ride in one, you can land at the Le Castelle Airport. The airport is privately owned by Paul Ricard and is right adjacent to the circuit.
The Toulon airport is another option and is only 45 km from the circuit. The Nice Airport which is much bigger than the one in Marseille is 176 km from Circuit Paul Ricard. Although there will be many visitors for the French Grand Prix, you will not fall short of avenues to reach the circuit.  
In 2018 there was traffic congestion on the roads leading to the circuit. Fans were stuck in the traffic for up to six hours. But in 2019 the authorities came up with a new arrangement that seems to solve the problem.
 There are no parking facilities at the circuit to speak of but the authorities have made arrangements for parking and riding in nearby La Coitat. There is parking for 4000 cars and free busses are available for a ride to the circuit.
There are regular busses from Marseille, Tulon, Nice and Aix-en-Provence to the circuit, particularly on weekends. Busses from other cities to Le Castellet leave early in the morning. Travelling by taxis is costly on the French Riviera.

Where to stay for the French Grand Prix?

The French Riviera is a favourite tourist destination in the summer and more so during the racing weekend. The best places to seek accommodation around Circuit Paul Ricard are Marseille (40 km away), Toulon (30 km away) and Bandol (20 km away).
A large city, Marseille is the best bet if you find yourself without accommodation. It does have accommodation to suit all budgets but booking early will help. Renting an apartment is another option available to fans.
Given that Circuit Paul Ricard is in the countryside, parking is another good option available to fans. There are many good parking sites close to the circuit and it rarely rains in the summer on the French Riviera.
There are hotels of all grades within walking distance of the circuit but getting a booking close to the Grand Prix weekend will be close to impossible. You can give it a shot by trying all the hotels in the area that are available online.

Who has won the most French Grand Prix races?

The French Grand Prix started in 1906. It was the first Grand Prix ever and the title was borrowed by various other F1 races around the world and eventually the FIA. 29 Grands Prix were held before in the pre and post-war era.
A few of them were a part of the Grands Prix, were a part of the pre-war European Championship and some others were a part of the pre-war World manufacturers Championship. Whatever the era of the French Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher has won the most races.
Before the World Drivers’ Championship was launched in 1950, The Monégasque, Louis Chiron had won 5 French Grands Prix. He still ranks third in the all-time winners of the French Grand Prix. The event was his favourite among the major automobile races he had won during his career in racing.
Felice Nazzaro, Christian Lautenschlager, Georges Boillot, Guiseppe Campari, Robert Benoit, William Grover-Williams, and Jeanne-Pierre Wimille had all won two French Grands Prix each in the Pre World Drivers’ Championship era.
In the World Drivers’ Championship French Grand Prix races, Michel Schumacher of Germany has won an amazing seven events. The Frenchman Alain Prost comes next with six wins, the first one at Dijon, four of them on Circuit Paul Ricard and the last at Magny Cours.
Juan Manuel Fangio won four contests in the 50s including the inaugural World Championship French grand Prix. Nigel Mansell won four French Grand Prix from 1986 to 1992 and Jack Brabham and Jackie Stewart won three each much before Mansell.