Which of these three pi­lotes knows most about their coun­try’s proud con­tri­bu­tion to For­mule Un? We set Este­ban Ocon, Ro­main Gros­jean and Pierre Gasly a French F1 test to find out…


Gros­jean, Gasly and Ocon face off in our fierce test of knowl­edge

Re­nault, Ligier. Ma­tra, Elf, Tal­bot and Miche­lin. Paul Ri­card. Magny-cours. Reims.

Then Behra, Bel­toise, Cev­ert, Laf­fite, Tam­bay, Pironi, Arnoux and Prost, to name but a few.

The French con­tri­bu­tion to For­mula 1 is rich and deep – in­deed the very first grand prix was the French race, in 1906, and it was won by Re­nault.

Lat­terly there has been a re­nais­sance of French in­ter­est in F1, thanks largely to the full works in­volve­ment of the Re­nault team, but also due to a new gen­er­a­tion of fresh French tal­ent. There are now five Fran­co­phone driv­ers with F1 seats: Ro­main Gros­jean (Haas), Este­ban Ocon (Force In­dia), Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso), Charles Le­clerc (Sauber) and Lance Stroll (Wil­liams). Only the first three, how­ever, race un­der the Tri­col­ore: Le­clerc is Mone­gasque, while Stroll is a proud Cana­dian. Gros­jean was ac­tu­ally born in Switzer­land but com­petes un­der a French rac­ing li­cence.

So it’s to Rogro, Este­ban and Pierre that we pitch a clutch of ‘French F1’ ques­tions, with the aim of find­ing out which of them is the truest stan­dard bearer for their coun­try.

Our quiz has a ‘game show’ flavour and F1 Rac­ing presents each con­tes­tant with a buzzer, a sheet of pa­per, and a place marker. Their first chal­lenge is to draw an out­line of the con­fig­u­ra­tion of the Paul Ri­card cir­cuit that will be used for this June’s French GP. Since last host­ing the race in 1990, Ri­card was ex­ten­sively ren­o­vated at the turn of the mil­len­nium, be­fore re-open­ing pri­mar­ily as a test­ing venue. Over the past decade it has held an in­creas­ing num­ber of events and last year it was con­firmed that it would once again host the French Grand Prix.

Knowl­edge of Paul Ri­card there­fore seems the per­fect place to be­gin our quiz, but draw­ing its out­line is a trick­ier propo­si­tion than might be imag­ined, since it can be con­fig­ured in 167 al­ter­na­tive lay­outs. While Gasly and Gros­jean qui­etly go about their sketches, very quickly they re­alise there are some rather du­bi­ous at­tempts com­ing from Ocon, who has made a very odd cre­ation. Gros­jean can’t help but ask whether he was try­ing to draw Abu Dhabi in­stead…

“Merde. I’m not good at this,” Ocon ad­mits, and there is much mirth at his efforts. “I have a prob­lem with the cor­ners… and the straights!”

Af­ter their du­bi­ous recre­ations are fin­ished (Gasly wins the point for the best like­ness) fin­gers are on the buzzers for our first quick-fire round, start­ing with an easy pitch: How many world cham­pi­onships has Alain Prost won?

Im­me­di­ately we re­alise our buzzers are of lit­tle use as all three men hit them and shout as loudly as pos­si­ble to drown out their com­pa­tri­ots. “FOUR!” they all scream in uni­son. Sacré bleu! This could be a long af­ter­noon…

Your hum­ble quiz­mas­ter has no choice but to re­mind the con­tes­tants that they must use the buzzers pro­vided. Once the rules of en­gage­ment are agreed, it’s on to ques­tion two: How many grands prix did Prost win? Gros­jean slaps his buzzer im­me­di­ately… and then pauses for about six sec­onds to give him­self time to think of an an­swer. Surely that’s not in the rules ei­ther? Fi­nally, he blurts out: “57?”

The Toro Rosso driver on Ro­main’s left spots the in­jus­tice of what has just oc­curred. Gasly en­quires hope­fully: “If you give the wrong an­swer, do you lose a point?” Since Gros­jean is cur­rently on zero, we an­swer, that isn’t pos­si­ble… Ocon, with­out us­ing his buzzer, seizes a chance to score: “44?” Gasly then re­acts: “59!” Nul points


to any­one – 51 is the cor­rect an­swer. “Sh­h­h­hhh… I knew it!” ex­claims Gros­jean.

Ques­tion three: In which year was the first ever French Grand Prix held? Tech­ni­cally, this was the first time the ‘Grand Prize’ ti­tle was ever used to de­scribe an in­ter­na­tional mo­tor race, thanks to the 45,000 francs awarded to the win­ner. Known as the Grand Prix de L’ACF, it was or­gan­ised in 1906 by the Au­to­mo­bile Club de France and run to a time-trial for­mat on the roads around Le Mans. This is the an­swer we’re look­ing for – not the first race af­ter the in­cep­tion of the For­mula 1 world cham­pi­onship in 1950, which that year was held on roads in the cham­pagne re­gion, close to Reims.

This time Ocon hits the buzzer and an­swers first: “Le Mans 1901.” The venue was not part of the ques­tion, but we think he de­serves a point for his knowl­edge. Gros­jean then can’t help chal­leng­ing the award­ing of the point. “It wasn’t Reims?” We sim­ply ig­nore the in­ter­jec­tion and re­it­er­ate what’s ex­pected: the year the first ever French Grand Prix was held – and that “1901” was close to be­ing cor­rect.

“Nine­teen-0-five, six, seven! Eight! NINE! TEN!” shouts Gros­jean im­me­di­ately.

Cor­rect – 1906! One point to Ro­main. Este­ban flounces at the in­jus­tice. “Oh come on,” he pouts in dis­gruntle­ment at the years just be­ing shouted out in se­quence. “That was my point!”

With­out fur­ther ado, we move onto the next quiz ques­tion: What was Bu­gatti driver Louis Ch­i­ron fa­mous for do­ing at Monaco? Sud­denly, the Pirelli hospi­tal­ity unit we’re sit­ting in (in­ci­den­tally, the per­fect neu­tral ter­ri­tory for such an ex­er­cise, so no one has a home ad­van­tage) goes oddly quiet.

Fi­nally, Gros­jean breaks the si­lence with: “Drink­ing Cognac?” Do­ing our best to pro­duce a with­er­ing Jeremy Pax­man-style “Nope,” we set in mo­tion fur­ther sec­onds of Gal­lic shrug­ging and glances to the ceil­ing, per­haps in hope of di­vine in­ter­ven­tion.

Af­ter a small clue, whereby your quiz­mas­ter holds his right arm aloft, Ocon has an epiphany: “He was the man who started the race with the flag. I watched the Jackie Ste­wart doc­u­men­tary from the 1970s where he talks about him rising up to his tip-toes be­fore wav­ing the flag.”

Ex­cel­lent de­tail. An­other point to Este­ban. Gros­jean then scores an­other for cor­rectly

iden­ti­fy­ing Guy Ligier as the for­mer French rugby player who es­tab­lished an F1 team in 1976, and an­other for knowing where Jean Alesi scored his one and only GP vic­tory (Canada in 1995).

Now on to the picture round. For this, we present five mugshots of for­mer French F1 rac­ers and the first to name each one gets a point:

F1R: [shows picture of François Cev­ert (1)…] Ocon: François Cev­ert.

F1R: [shows picture of Jean Behra (2)…] Gros­jean: Com­ment s’ap­pelle? If you tell me, I’ll know his name…

F1R: Jean Behra.

Ocon: Jean who?

F1R: [shows picture of Franck Mon­tagny (3)…] Gros­jean: Mon­tagny!

F1R: [Shows picture of Jean-pierre Jarier (4)…] Ocon: Jabouille?

Gros­jean: Arnoux?

F1R: Jean-pierre Jarier

F1R: [Shows picture of Di­dier Pironi (5)…] Ocon: Jabouille?

F1R: He drove for Fer­rari in the early 1980s… Gros­jean: [Laugh­ing] Arnoux?

F1R: [With a sigh] Di­dier Pironi

F1R: [Shows picture of Olivier Pa­nis (6) win­ning at Monaco…]

All: Pa­nis, Monaco, ’96!

Gros­jean: In MAY!

F1R: Well done. A point each.

With this quick-fire round done, we move to the fi­nal part of our quiz – this one re­quir­ing less speed but greater clar­ity of thought. Each driver in turn has to con­vince the quiz­mas­ter with their an­swer: the first re­lat­ing to cui­sine; the sec­ond to travel; and the third the French GP it­self. There is no ‘cor­rect’ an­swer to the first ques­tion, but the most de­li­cious-sound­ing French recipe each driver can pro­vide will take the win­ning point.

Gros­jean, we sus­pect, will start with an ad­van­tage; his gas­tro­nomic ten­den­cies are renowned, and at the end of last year, he and his wife Mar­ion pub­lished a book of their favourite recipes (a review of which can be found on page 112). Alas, Gasly sus­pects foul play: “C’mon we can’t talk about food, he.…” [Pierre points an ac­cusatory digit at Gros­jean] “… is a proper chef!”

A help­ful in­ter­jec­tion, Pierre, and for that you may en­joy the ad­van­tage of an­swer­ing first. But Gros­jean in­ter­rupts: “The quiz­mas­ter is English, so you need to think of some­thing that will ap­peal to him, like ros­bif!” Gasly re­sponds: “My favourite French dish I think you will like… erm… I’m not an ex­pert, but maybe I would say a clas­sic French dish of snails and but­ter.”

This is not to our taste, alas. Next up is Ocon: “Sim­ple. Rata­touille!” Cooked any par­tic­u­lar way, we en­quire? By now Gros­jean is un­able to con­tain his de­sire to speak, plus there’s an all-im­por­tant point to steal. “Cook each in­gre­di­ent sep­a­rately,” he an­nounces. “So the tomato, cour­gette and aubergine – and mix them al­to­gether. But this is not my dish. For you I would cook a pot-au-feu with beef and pota­toes, car­rots, leeks and onions.” We’ve heard enough. Gros­jean is lead­ing, while Gasly has the fewest points. In the in­ter­ests of com­pe­ti­tion, there­fore, we snub Gros­jean’s culi­nary ex­per­tise, award­ing the point to Gasly’s gar­lic snails in­stead.

Ro­main is un­per­turbed and, sens­ing vic­tory, gen­er­ously adds to Gasly: “Still, you have more points in the F1 cham­pi­onship than me!”

The penul­ti­mate ques­tion is: con­vince the quiz­mas­ter of the best place to visit in France.: “Oh, my good­ness!” Gros­jean ex­claims. “There are so many. When you go to Paul Ri­card in the sum­mer, make sure you visit Cas­sis, a fish­ing vil­lage nearby. Get a nice bot­tle of rosé wine and en­joy some sea bass from the Mediter­ranean.”

Could that be bet­tered? Ocon has a go. “I sug­gest Nor­mandy, where I’m from…” Gros­jean in­ter­jects: “Where it rains all the time?” Back to Ocon: “The coast is very nice near Deauville, and it’s a bit more Bri­tish – so that should ap­peal. You can have nice cheese there, too.” Gros­jean: “You can have nice cheese any­where.”

Ro­main senses an­other point com­ing his way as Gasly takes his turn: “I’d sug­gest the Alps in win­ter. There are so many nice ski re­sorts to visit. It’s pretty cool, fresh air and al­ways nice.”

Nope. For this one, there’s no doubt Gros­jean has con­vinced us where F1 Rac­ing’s ac­com­mo­da­tion will be for the re­turn of the French GP this June.“but the south of France is too easy!” ex­claims Ocon. Fur­ther de­bate en­sues,


cen­tring around Biar­ritz on the Basque coast­line and a ref­er­ence to nearby Pau, the town that hosted the French Grand Prix in the 1930s and which still holds F3 races to this day.

Af­ter all these dis­cus­sions, it seems amaz­ing that a coun­try with such a rich mo­tor rac­ing her­itage hasn’t hosted a grand prix for a decade, although hap­pily that in­jus­tice will be put right this sum­mer. On which note, we in­tro­duce our fi­nal ques­tion: Who can give the best rea­son for the re­turn of the French GP to the F1 cal­en­dar?

Ocon goes first: “France has a huge part to play in mo­tor­sport his­tory: we have a lot of suc­cess­ful cars – in ral­ly­ing and road cars too. France de­serves to be back on the cal­en­dar.”

Next, Gasly: “We have many driv­ers who have won races in F1,” he says. “We have Re­nault and it’s part of our cul­ture and the French GP was on the cal­en­dar for years but for some rea­son not re­cently. Ev­ery­one is en­joy­ing see­ing it back on the sched­ule and we can’t wait to race.”

And the fi­nal word to Ro­main: “It’s sim­ple, it’s be­cause we say grand prix and grand prix isa French ex­pres­sion!” Gros­jean’s stir­ring clos­ing words elicit loud cheers and whoops of joy from his com­pa­tri­ots, fol­lowed by much guf­faw­ing as we hand him the fi­nal point and a clear vic­tory in the first-ever F1 Rac­ing French GP Quiz.

The fi­nal score is Gros­jean 11, Ocon seven, Gasly six. The prize we award Ro­main is a minia­ture F1 steer­ing wheel. He grins and holds his tro­phy aloft. “Merci,”he says sim­ply.

And thank you, La France, for your very spe­cial con­tri­bu­tion to For­mula 1.


Fin­gers on the buzzers; pens and pa­per ready – or just shout out your an­swers all at the same time. Quiz mar­shalling has never been an easy job…

Amoeba? Side­ways cat with in­di­ges­tion? Poleaxed pine marten… or Paul Ri­card?

Gal­lic shrugs all round – F1 is the easy bit. Quizzing is a very dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion

The podium: Gasly on six points, Ocon on seven – and the win­ner on 11 points is Gros­jean, who gets a minia­ture ad­di­tion to his tro­phy cab­i­net

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.