If Eric Boullier, the boss of the Grand Prix de France, were to look up, he would certainly see a sword from Damocles on the future of the race at Paul Ricard: indeed, the arrival of new Grands Prix on the calendar, such as that of Miami or Las Vegas is clearly a threat to historic races.
Spa, Monaco, Monza Silverstone and in the front line Paul Ricard are under threat.
Inevitably, the two French drivers on the grid, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, would not welcome the disappearance of their national event.
Ocon, who is also part of a French team, has therefore raised his voice a little in the Melbourne paddock: we have to save Private Castellet.
“Well, I’m very happy to discover new circuits, but yes, I see the French Grand Prix under threat, and I will certainly do everything I can to be heard about it, to try to keep it on the calendar. †
“Of course, when I started in Formula 1, this Grand Prix didn’t exist. He was rumored to be coming back, and he was coming back, and you know, we had so many great times with the French fans there and yes, it’s extremely special when we go there every year. †
“So I mean, I don’t know the exact situation, but I’m not happy to hear that he’s currently under threat and I’ll do everything I can to keep him on track.”
For Esteban Ocon, the alleged disappearance of the Paul Ricard is just one more example of the threats to historic Grands Prix. Even Monaco and Monza are in FOM’s crosshairs today.
“We haven’t lost the big Spa circuit, the big Monza and all those circuits, so yeah it would be a real shame to lose them, and we’re all of the same opinion, you know, the drivers, the teams, and probably Formula 1 too. So it’s not a topic at the moment, but I’m happy to go to Vegas and Miami and find out about the United States and the new tracks.”
Gasly also defends Le Castellet
At AlphaTauri, Pierre Gasly also plans to do everything he can to defend his national Grand Prix. He really wants to feel the atmosphere of a home event after being robbed of it by Covid.
“Well, being French I will always support the French Grand Prix and I have a special bond with this country because, and Daniel can experience that this weekend, the motivation, the energy, the atmosphere is something you can only do feeling in your home country and your people, your fans can make you feel in those kinds of emotions.”
“So I really hope we can see the French Grand Prix again in the coming years. If it were up to me, of course I would sign the contract now, but I’m not sure Stefano [Domenicali] allow me to do that. And yes, there are other things they should discuss first. Obviously, this Grand Prix is currently not in a safe position. †
“It has been quite difficult with the COVID. And I still don’t feel like I’ve been able to fully experience this race the way I should. So I’m really looking forward to this year. And yes, I keep my fingers crossed that the circuit will stay with us, that it will remain on the calendar for years to come. †
But Gasly is also looking forward to racing in Miami or Las Vegas…
“Because the popularity of F1 is so high, you know, everyone wants us. It’s great to see new tracks like Miami, Vegas, all these super fun places. And yes, we’ll see how it goes. But hopefully we can get a have a very good addition, a very good event this season.”