Here are all the facts and statistics you need to know about Circuit Paul Ricard ahead of the 2019 French Grand Prix!
🇫🇷 RACE WINNERS
There have been fifteen French Grands Prix held at Circuit Paul Ricard since the first event at the track in 1971. During that time, eleven different drivers have won a race here.
Alain Prost is the driver to have won the most times here, with four victories. Nigel Mansell is the only other driver with more than one win at the track. With three wins each, Williams and McLaren are tied for the most team victories here. British and French drivers are tied for the most wins at the circuit, each with five, while Ford engines have powered the most wins here, with five victories at the track coming from Ford-powered cars.
Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost are the only two drivers to have taken back-to-back wins at Circuit Paul Ricard. Mansell did it first, taking consecutive wins in 1986 and 1987. Prost has the record for the most consecutive wins here, having taken three in a row between 1988 and 1990.
Lewis Hamilton could join Mansell and Prost as a consecutive winner at this track, having won last year on the circuit’s return to the calendar for the first time since 1990. Aside from it being his first victory at the track, his 2018 win here was also Mercedes’ first win at the Paul Ricard Circuit.
The longest streak of different winners at this track came between 1971 and 1986, when a different driver won in all of the ten races held in that period.
The smallest win margin at this track came in 1975, when Niki Lauda won by just 1.59 seconds. The largest win margin was in 1989, a race in which Alain Prost won by 44.017 seconds.
The French Grand Prix at this circuit has been won by less than five seconds three times, in 1975, 1978 and 1980.
From all the Formula 1 races held here, the average win margin at Circuit Paul Ricard has been 17.386 seconds.
🇫🇷 ON THE PODIUM
From the fifteen races held so far at this track, 27 different drivers have finished on the podium
Alain Prost is the driver with the most podiums at the circuit, having finished in the top three eight times. McLaren have more podiums than any other team at the Paul Ricard track, with ten. French drivers have excelled at their home race in the past, with a driver finishing on the podium at their home event fifteen times during the French Grand Prix’s tenure at this circuit – more podium finishes than drivers from any other nation. The 1982 French Grand Prix saw three French drivers – Rene Arnoux, Alain Prost and Didier Pironi – finish on the podium together.
With last year’s French Grand Prix marking the return of Formula One to the Paul Ricard circuit for the first time since the early nineties, the only drivers on the 2019 grid to have finished on the podium at this circuit are last year’s top three – Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen.
From fifteen races here, the polesitter has finished on the podium eleven times.
The lowest grid slot a podium finish has come from at this track is seventeenth, which happened in the first race at Paul Ricard in 1971, when Emerson Fittipaldi finished third. That’s the only time a podium finisher at this track has started from outside the top eight on the grid.
The 1973 French Grand Prix is the only time that none of the top three qualifiers finished on the podium here, while the 1982 French Grand Prix is the only time the top three qualifiers all finished on the podium.
Eleven different drivers have taken pole position at this circuit. Alain Prost has the most poles here, with three. McLaren lead the way for the most pole positions for a team at the track, also with three. Two of McLaren’s poles here were courtesy of Prost in 1988 and 1989, while James Hunt took the team’s first pole here back in 1976.
British drivers have taken more poles here than drivers from any other nation, with seven. France are next on the leaderboard, with five poles at the track.
Having taken pole last season, Lewis Hamilton is the only previous Paul Ricard polesitter on the current grid.
Jackie Stewart and Alain Prost are the only drivers to have taken back-to-back poles at this circuit. While Stewart’s back-to-back poles came in the 1971 and 1973 events, Prost’s came in consecutive years in 1988 and 1989. No driver has taken more than two consecutive poles here.
The fastest time in qualifying last season was a 1:30.029, set by Lewis Hamilton, which is the track record for the current configuration of the track.
The largest gap between the fastest and the slowest car in qualifying at this circuit is 11.942 seconds, which was the gap between polesitter Keke Rosberg and slowest driver Stefan Bellof in 1985. The smallest qualifying spread here is 3.700 seconds, which separated Lewis Hamilton in Q3 from Lance Stroll in Q1 last season.
The smallest pole margin seen at the Paul Ricard circuit came in 1989, when Alain Prost took pole by 0.025 seconds. Meanwhile, the largest pole margin is 2.308 seconds, which is the margin Prost took pole by in 1983.
Pole has been decided by less than a tenth here only twice – in 1978 and 1989 . The pole margin here last year was a relatively small 0.118 seconds.
On average, pole at the Paul Ricard track is taken by 0.488 seconds.
🇫🇷 SATURDAY TO SUNDAY
A race at Le Castellet circuit has been won from pole on nine occasions and has been won from the front row of the grid eleven times.
1980 and 1985 are the only occasions where the polesitter has gone on to finish on the podium without winning the event.
Just four races here have been won from behind the front row. No race at the track has been won from third on the grid.
The furthest back grid slot to win a race at the track is fifth, which has happened twice, in 1973 and 1985.
🇫🇷 SUNDAY STATS
The most drivers to finish on the lead lap of the race is twelve in 1975, while the least is three with just two drivers failing to be lapped by the race winner in both 1987 and 1988.
The Safety Car made its first appearance in a French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard circuit last season. There was also a single Virtual Safety Car period in last year’s race.
There is yet to be a rain-affected Grand Prix at this track.
Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell are the drivers with the most fastest laps at Circuit Paul Ricard, each setting the pace in two Grands Prix here. Valtteri Bottas could equal them this year.
The least number of cars to finish a race here is ten, which happened in 1987. The most cars to finish here is eighteen, which happened in three consecutive events between 1975 and 1978.
From the 377 cars which have started a race here, 219 have seen the chequered flag, giving an overall finish rate of 58%.
The 1989 French Grand Prix is the only F1 race to have been red-flagged at this circuit.
There have been 939 Grand Prix laps raced so far at the Paul Ricard track.
🇫🇷 CHAMPIONSHIP GLORY
There has never been a World Champion crowned at this circuit. The winner of a race at this track has gone on to win the championship in the same year on seven occasions.
The leader of the championship after a French Grand Prix held at this circuit has gone on to win the title ten times.
After graduating from the University of Hull in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its fifth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and GPDestinations. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast.