Things to know before the French Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP France, Circuit Paul Ricardfr

Formula One ends a decade-long hiatus with its return to France which it last visited back in 2008. The venue of French soil is Le Castellet which has not hosted a GP since 1990.

This race will be the 59th running of the French Grand Prix history. It was a permanent fixture on the race calendar until 2008. The only exception was 1955 when the organizers cancelled the event following the Le Mans disaster of that year.

The Paul Ricard track did last host a Grand Prix back in 1990. The circuit is not unfamiliar to the drivers, teams and the tyre supplier tough. Pirelli has made extensive use of the circuit in recent years for both wet and slick tyre tests with Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren participating, and the circuit is also widely used for WEC testing. Carlos Sainz (twice) and Kevin Magnussen have both won here in Formula Renault 3.5, while Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon and Stoffel Vandoorne have all won in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series.

The track is 5.842km long, drivers will cover 53 laps during the race, completing a total of race distance of 309.626km. The layout features two high-speed straights and several heavy braking zones but also intricate, technical, low-speed sections, while the famous Signes corner at the end of the Mistral straight will be one of the fastest corners in F1 this year.
Pole has conferred a small advantage at Ricard in the past, with eight of the 14 previous races won from P1 on the grid.

Home hero Alain Prost is the most successful driver at the Paul Ricard track. However, it is the seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher who has the most wins on his tally on French soil. The German claimed eight wins over his career.

Next to Le Castellet, the French Grand Prix has also been held at Reims, Magny-Cours, Dijon, Rouen, Le Mans and Clermont-Ferrand.

Among the race stewards for this weekend are Garry Connelly, Enzo Spano and Yannik Dalmas.

Interesting facts about France

France is the world's most popular tourist destination. The French eat around 30,000 tonnes of snails a year. The French Army was the first to use camouflage in 1915.

France is the largest country in the EU, and known as 'the hexagon' – with an area of 551,000 sq km it's almost a fifth of the EU’s total area, and due to its six-sided shape France is sometimes referred to as l’hexagone. About a quarter is covered by forest; only Sweden and Finland have more.

Louis XIX was the king of France for just 20 minutes, the shortest ever reign – he ascended to the French throne in July 1830 after his father Charles X abdicated, and abdicated himself 20 minutes later in favour of his nephew, the Duke of Bordeaux.

In France you can marry a dead person – under French law, in exceptional cases you can marry posthumously, as long as you can also prove that the deceased had the intention of marrying while alive and you receive permission from the French president

France was the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food – since February 2016, shops must donate wastage to food banks or charities.
Europe’s highest mountain is in the French Alps – Mont Blanc, at 4,810m, takes an arduous 10 to 12 hours to climb to the summit.

The Louvre Museum in Paris was the most visited museum in the world in 2014.

The world’s first artificial heart transplant and face transplant both took place in France.

Totalling around 29,000km, the French rail network is the second largest in Europe (after Germany) and the ninth biggest in the world – France was one of the world's first countries to utilise high-speed technology, introducing the TGV high-speed rail in 1981.