The French Grand Prix is set to return to the Formula 1 calendar in 2018 after a 10 year absence.
The race will be held at the Circuit Automobile Paul Ricard – also known as Le Castelett – near picturesque Toulon in the south of France.
Christian Estrosi, a former French motorcycle champion and now the president of the regional authority of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, made the announcement recently in Paris in what is thought to be a 5-year deal.
Le Castellet last hosted the French Grand Prix in 1990 with Magny-Cours, in central France, holding the race between 1991 and 2008.
In his press conference, Estrosi said that losing the French Grand Prix had left “a real scar” on the country.
Initial estimates indicate that the event will cost €30million to host with €14m from public funds and €16m from ticket sales with an expected 66,000 fans attending.
Le Castellet is owned by the family trust of Formula 1’s commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone, but he said that: “It’s nothing to do with them at all. I think they are renting it to the people that are going to be the promoters.”
The race is expected to take place in late July making the stunning Toulon harbour – with nearby sandy beaches and hidden coves – the ideal staging ground for many spectators.
And for many motorsport traditionalist the agreement to bring Formula 1 back to France will be a welcomed announcement following the recent trend towards more races in new unchartered locations.
Most recently, the Germany Grand Prix dropped off the calendar because the Nurburgring couldn’t meet its financial commitments, while Silverstone is reportedly considering their future after the British Grand Prix in 2019.
But for now, Frenchman Romain Grosjean who drives for Haas said: “Really super-happy for French fans, who will have their Grand Prix and can come to support us.”