It was inaugurated in 1970 and is located in Le Castellet, which is a small municipality located in the Southeast of France, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. It is named after Paul Ricard, creator of the namesake pastis, who wanted to enhance this area he loved with a sporting event at an international level.
In 1971, the track hosted the first Formula 1 Grand Prix and continued from thereafter at first alternately with Dijon's track up to 1990. But the current circuit's layout is very similar to the one used from 1971 up to 1985, also in regard to its length, compared with reduced version (which is 3,813 meters, 2.37 miles long) used from 1986 to 1990.
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The main difference with the original track is the chicane that has been added to the “ligne droite du Mistral” in order to cut the 1,800 meters (1.12 miles) extra-long straightway into two sections.
5,842 meters (3.63 miles) long, after Spa-Francorchamps, Baku, Silverstone and Sochi it is the championship's fifth longest track. It is technically very demanding, with a medium aerodynamic load and very fast turns such as the Signes turn (the 10th) that is fully taken during the race and others that are very slow such as the 15th turn, where the single-seaters fall below 90 km/h (56 mph).
According to the ranking the Brembo technicians have drawn up for the 21 world championships tracks, the Circuit Paul Ricard belongs to the group of circuits that are poorly demanding for the brakes. On a scale of 1 to 5, it earned a 2 on the difficulty index.
Brake use during the GP
On average, during a complete lap, the Formula 1 pilots will be using the brakes for over 15 and a half seconds; this value is similar to the ones of the Bahrain GP and Russian GP.
At Circuit Paul Ricard, the braking systems are operated for 17 percent of the whole race, at Bahrain International Circuit for 18 percent and at Sochi Autodrom for 16 percent.
The average of the maximum decelerations during a lap is 3.1 G because from the 9th turn up to the finish line there is only one 3.1 G turn while the others do not exceed 2.3 G.
Both the energy dissipated (115 kWh) as well as the load on the brake pedal (33 tonnes) are among the lowest values of the 2019 World Championships.
The most challenging braking zones
The 15 turns of the Circuit Paul Ricard correspond to 8 braking zones: only one turn is classed as demanding on the brakes, for 2 turns the difficulty is medium and the remaining 5 are light.
The most demanding hard braking is at the 8th turn, the chicane that cuts the Mistral straightway in two: the single-seaters get there at 340 km/h (211 mph) and brake for 2.09 seconds covering 123 meters (404 feet) in order to tackle it at 137 km/h (85 mph).
The pilots have to apply a 142 kg (313 lbs) force and undergo a 5.3 G deceleration. Also the first turn after the finish line is very demanding: from 331 km/h (206 mph) down to 177 km/h (110 mph) in 1.72 seconds, thanks to a 98 kg (216 lbs) load on the brake pedal while the deceleration reaches 4.4 G.
Slightly lower values are reached at the "Virage de l’Hôtel" (3rd turn): from 299 km/h (186 mph) down to 163 km/h (101 mph) in 1.86 seconds with a 4 G deceleration.