For­mula One re­turns to France af­ter 10-year ab­sence

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The French For­mula One Grand Prix will re­turn in 2018 af­ter a 10-year ab­sence with the race sched­uled to take place at the Cir­cuit Paul Ri­card in south­ern France, re­gional politi­cian Chris­tian Estrosi said yes­ter­day. “We and those who are with me are very proud...it’s a great vic­tory,” Estrosi told re­porters.

Named af­ter the lo­cal pastis al­co­hol mag­nate who fi­nanced it, and also known as Le Castel­let, the track last hosted a grand prix in 1990. The coun­try’s most re­cent For­mula One race was at Magny-Cours, in cen­tral France, in 2008. France hosted the first recog­nised grand prix near Le Mans in 1906, and was also part of the first world cham­pi­onship sea­son in 1950 with a race at Reims. The five-year deal was agreed with the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur (PACA) region in as­so­ci­a­tion with the city of Toulon, depart­ment of Var and the French mo­tor­sport as­so­ci­a­tion (FFSA).

PACA pres­i­dent Estrosi, an ex-mayor of Nice and a for­mer car and mo­tor­cy­cle racer who fin­ished fourth in the 1978 French 500cc Grand Prix at Nog­aro, said the event was likely to hap­pen in the Euro­pean sum­mer. He de­clined to say how much it had cost to bring back motor rac­ing’s elite com­pe­ti­tion, but said the con­tract was in the nor­mal price range for a grand prix in Europe.

“Los­ing the grand prix left a real scar on the coun­try,” Estrosi said.

Ger­many has been axed from the 2017 calendar for fi­nan­cial rea­sons, de­spite the coun­try hav­ing world cham­pi­ons in dom­i­nant Mercedes, but Hock­en­heim still has a con­tract to host the loss-mak­ing race in 2018.

Le Castel­let, which fea­tures the long Mis­tral straight, has been fully ren­o­vated and is now owned by For­mula One supremo Bernie Ec­cle­stone’s family trust.

The Bri­ton told Reuters last week that the trust was not in­volved in the race and would be leas­ing the fa­cil­ity to “the peo­ple that are go­ing to be the pro­mot­ers.” France cur­rently has two driv­ers on the start­ing grid, Ro­main Gros­jean and Este­ban Ocon, while French man­u­fac­turer Re­nault has its own team and pro­vides en­gines to for­mer cham­pi­ons Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

The show­case Monaco Grand Prix, a few hours’ drive from Le Castel­let, has been a fix­ture on the calendar since 1950 and the clos­est thing to a home race for French driv­ers in re­cent years. —Reuters

OK­LA­HOMA: Ok­la­homa City Thun­der guard Vic­tor Oladipo, left, and New Or­leans Pel­i­cans guard Jrue Hol­i­day (11) go af­ter a loose ball dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NBA bas­ket­ball game in Ok­la­homa City, Sun­day. Ok­la­homa City won 101-92. —AP

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