Circuit Paul Ricard returned to the F1 calendar in 2018 having last hosted the French Grand Prix 1990. Here are all the facts and statistics you need to know ahead of the French Grand Prix!
RACE WINNERS AT CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD
There have been seventeen French Grands Prix held at Circuit Paul Ricard since the first event at the track in 1971. During that time, twelve different drivers have won a race here.
Alain Prost is the driver to have won the most times here, with four victories. Nigel Mansell and Lewis Hamilton are the only other drivers with more than one win at the track.
With three wins each, Williams and McLaren are tied for the most team victories here. British drivers have more wins than any other nation at this track, with six. Ford engines have powered the most wins at Circuit Paul Ricard, with five victories at the track coming from Ford-powered cars.
Tyrrell, Lotus, Renault, Williams, McLaren and Mercedes are the six teams who have taken 1-2 finishes at Circuit Paul Ricard. No team has taken more than a single 1-2 finish at the track.
Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Lewis Hamilton 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, while Hamilton won the first two French Grands Prix following the event’s return in 2018 and 2019.
Renault, Williams, McLaren and Mercedes are the teams who’ve won back-to-back races at the circuit. No team has won more than two races in a row at the track.
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 ten seconds on eight occasions and by less than five seconds four times, in 1975, 1978, 1980 and 2021.
From all the Formula 1 races held here, the average win margin at Circuit Paul Ricard has been 16.574 seconds.
ON THE PODIUM
From the seventeen races held so far at this track, 30 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.
Six drivers on the current grid have previously finished on the podium at Circuit Paul Ricard. Lewis Hamilton and Mac Verstappen are the only current drivers with multiple podium finishes here. Hamilton has finished on the podium three times, while Verstappen made his second top three appearance in 2021. Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez have each finished on the podium once.
From seventeen races here, the polesitter has finished on the podium thirteen 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 and 2019 French Grands Prix are the only times the top three qualifiers all finished on the podium. In both 1982 and 2019, the top three finished in the order they started.
POLESITTERS AT CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD
Twelve 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 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 eight. France are next on the leaderboard, with five poles at the track.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are the two drivers on the current grid who’ve previously taken pole at Circuit Paul Ricard. Hamilton started on pole in 2018 and 2019, while Verstappen was 2021’s French Grand Prix polesitter.
Jackie Stewart, Alain Prost and Lewis Hamilton 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.
Four teams have recorded poles at consecutive visits to Circuit Paul Ricard: Tyrrell, Renault, McLaren and Mercedes. No team has taken more than two consecutive pole positions at 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 in 2018.
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.
On average, pole at the Paul Ricard track is taken by 0.462 seconds.
SATURDAY TO SUNDAY
Races at Le Castellet circuit has been won from pole on eleven occasions and has been won from the front row of the grid thirteen 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.
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 in 2018. There was also been a single Virtual Safety Car period in 2018 and 2019.
There is yet to be a rain-affected Grand Prix at this track.
Fifteen different drivers have set the fastest lap of the race 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.
The fewest number of cars to finish a race here is ten, which happened in 1987. The most cars to finish here is twenty – the whole field – which happened in 2021.
463 cars have been entered into World Championship races at Circuit Paul Ricard. Of those, 420 have qualified for races at the track. 417 cars have started races here, of which 258 have crossed the finish lin. That gives an overall finish rate of 62%.
The 1989 French Grand Prix is the only F1 race to have been red-flagged at this circuit. Every race at the track has run to its scheduled distance.
There have been 1,045 Grand Prix laps raced so far at the Paul Ricard track.
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 eight occasions, while the polesitter at the event has won the title in the same season on seven occasions.
The leader of the championship after a French Grand Prix held at this circuit has gone on to win the title eleven times.
After graduating 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 sixth 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 Motorsport Guides. 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.