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F1 | Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi believes it would be "unfair" to remove the French Grand Prix from the calendar

The talk from the paddock this weekend is that this weekend could have seen the final Grand Prix at the Circuit Paul Ricard.

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F1 | Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi believes it would be "unfair" to remove the French Grand Prix from the calendar
Fuente imagen: @OconEsteban

The circuit at Le Castellet in the South of France currently doesn’t have a deal in place to host a race in 2023, and Formula 1 team members have reacted to the news.

Alpine boss Laurent Rossi said he would be, ‘very disappointed’ if Paul Ricard disappeared from the calendar when speaking in the FIA press conference on Saturday:

"I'm not talking about it as the manager of a French team, or even as a French citizen - It's more like I think France is a racing stronghold. It's been giving a lot to the sport. It has a big audience, a big fan base.”

France has enjoyed a long history with motor racing, in categories across many different series’, and for traditionalists the French Grand Prix could be a sad loss. Not only for race fans but for team personnel.

"It would be a little bit kind of unfair, I would say, to remove a big milestone like the French Grand Prix from the calendar. I think it would be odd, but I'm hoping that it will stay."

After hosting their first Formula 1 race in 2021, the Losail International Circuit in Qatar returns to the calendar in 2023 following a break to present the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Las Vegas is also confirmed for 2023, and there are ongoing discussions for a South African venue to be introduced. The Chinese Grand Prix could also see a return next season if their Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. Therefore, it looks as though the future of the French Grand Prix is in jeopardy.

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon, and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly are both French natives, and the reception for them this weekend was a spectacle. The 'Pierre Gasly Grandstand' was an area dedicated to the man from Rouen, with flags provided for fans to wave in his honour. Gasly said:

“I tried to enjoy every second of it. I must say, it was quite emotional to see all these French flags out there.

“It’s the first time for me I see a French Grand Prix like that. It’s the first time I get to experience it properly since I won as well in Monza.

“You can really see people are excited about Formula One in this country. It made the day slightly better.”

The AlphaTauri driver went onto fight the corner for the French Grand Prix, with the consideration that it could potentially be hosted at an alternative venue, as he isn't the only French interest in Formula One:

“Hopefully we’re going [to] have the French Grand Prix [again], because I feel like it clearly deserves its place in the calendar.

“We have Alpine, we have two French drivers – two and a half, with Charles [Leclerc]. But I really feel if it’s not on this track, hopefully we can find a solution at another track.”

Gasly, Ocon and Alpine weren’t the only drivers and team to receive an enthusiastic reception in Le Castellet. The Formula 2 support series enjoyed an all French podium in Sunday’s Feature Race, with DAMS and ART taking the top three spots. 

At the end of the race both teams joined arms with each other, and second place French driver, Théo Pourchaire, and faced the jubilant grandstand; spontaneously bursting into the French National anthem, "La Marseillaise”.

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