Circuit Paul Ricard boss Stephane Clair would welcome Formula One’s proposal to push back the start of this year’s French GP by two hours. In a bid to boost TV ratings, new owner Liberty Media is mulling the idea of scrapping F1’s traditional 2PM race start and kicking off proceedings at 3.10PM, with the extra ten-minute offset allowing for a brief introduction and an advertisement break before lights out.
The French GP could start as late as 4.10PM however, a one-off exception to avoid the race clashing with a key FIFA World Cup match for Great-Britain scheduled on June 24, race day for the French event at Paul Ricard.
“The idea is very interesting,” said Paul Ricard chief Stephane Clair, as reported by the French and British media earlier today – “It would provide guests with the time to have lunch and get through traffic for their arrival at the circuit.” The Circuit Paul Ricard, located in Southern France near Marseille, last hosted a Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1990 and has undertaken a number of track modifications which should get the final green light from the FIA in February.
At the moment extensive work is also underway in order to further upgrade and extend the venue’s press room and paddock area, and install additional grandstands offering a capacity in excess of 90,000 spectators.
This change would come after Formula 1 have officially confirmed that grid girls will no longer be used from the 2018 season and beyond. Owners Liberty Media have been deliberating whether the tradition has become outdated and while drivers and fans alike have been split on the issue, the decision has now been made to end the practice with immediate effect across all motorsport series that form part of a grand prix weekend: “Over the last year we have looked at a number of areas which we felt needed updating so as to be more in tune with our vision for this great sport,” said FOM managing director Sean Bratches – “While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms. We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”