French GP organisers plan for reduced attendance

Circuit Paul Ricrard, venue for the 2018 French Grand Prix
© XPB 

Organisers of next year's French Grand Prix say that they are targeting a race day attendance of around 70,000.

It's the first time in ten years that the event has been on the Formula 1 calendar. And not since 1990 has the French Grand Prix been held at the Circuit Paul Ricard.

The circuit, located in southern France, could reportedly hold up to 90,000 fans. But commercial director Aurelie Letellier told Reuters that they were worried about congestion.

“We are confident we can have a big capacity but we are also being very humble,” she said. Race day access and traffic have previously been a weak point for the 5.861km (3.642-mile) circuit.

The race's promoters say they are working on improving the infrastructure at the venue, previously owned by former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

“We are pretty confident we are going to find creative solutions to make the access easier,” Letellier insisted. "There are challenges. But we are working on solutions and creative ways to get around them."

The last time that the French Grand Prix was held, it was staged at the Magny-Cours circuit in the centre of the country. The last F1 race held there in 2008 drew a race day crowd of 78,000.

Next year's race will be held on June 24 and will be the first of a 'triple header' followed in successive weeks by events in Austria and Britain.

Letellier said that the race would be an example of the change in direction and emphasis sought by the sport's new owners, Liberty Media.

”We are really in line with what Formula 1 management wants to do," he said. "It’s not just a car race any more,“ she said.

”We want to spread our event across four days, starting with Thursday and going through to Sunday with different activities."

Silverstone adopted a similar approach to this year's British Grand Prix.

She added that the race was returning to the calendar at the right time and with "just the right momentum" given the French talent involved in Formula 1.

French manufacturer Renault will be taking part, and the driver line-up currently includes Romain Grosjean at Haas and Esteban Ocon at Force India.

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