The French Grand Prix returns to the Formula 1 calendar in F1 2018 after a 10 year hiatus. It had been run at Magny-Cours from 1991 to 2008, but in 2018 it was once again hosted at the Circuit Paul Ricard in the south of France. This high-speed, wide open, track features multiple sweeping corners and odd entry angles that can catch out the unprepared.
Circuit Paul Ricard is a remarkable track really. It has plenty of run-off space at every corner and overtakes are possible at nearly every corner thanks to terrific slipstreaming throughout the track and a pair of DRS zones. This version of Paul Ricard features 15 corners, including a chicane in the middle of the mistral straight. There is also no altitude change at this track either, making it easier on aerodynamic performances. But where can you overtake? And which corners are the trickiest to navigate? Let’s take a look.
The mistral chicane presents the best overtaking spot in all of F1 2018. A nice run out of turn 6 & 7 sends you on a long blast with DRS down the straight. You can normally get past an opponent before the braking zone, but it is possible to dive up the inside and sweep around the outside into turn 8. Even though there is a right-hander immediately afterward it is relatively simple to retain your position.
The second DRS zone is down the pit straight, which makes turn 1 a prime opportunity to make a pass. It is harder to make a move stick here as turn 1 is a sweeping left-hander and you really have to get your elbows out to hold your position though turn 2 at times. It is also very easy to get a track extension warning and have to give the place back so precision is the name of the game here.
You can get forceful and make some dives against the AI at other corners, but it is not advisable to start trying to pass other players elsewhere unless you have a serious tyre & car advantage. There are also some particularly tricky corners around Paul Ricard, with odd lines and counter-intuitive braking patterns.
Turn 5 & 6
With turn 8 being such a good overtaking point your exit onto the mistral straight is vital. That means getting a terrific run through turns 5 & 6 so you can fly through turn 7 and out onto the straight. On paper they look simple, but in practice they are very tricky to get right. Turn 6 is a right-hander that is far slower than it looks, and turn 7 is a sweeping right that looks flat but is not. You have to ease off the power mid-corner and it can easily catch you out if you aren't prepared for it.
This is a very tricky corner to get right even if you have the racing line assist on. You need to keep going even as the kerb moves away from you on the right and then feather the brakes, easing the speed down as you take aim at a late apex. Turn in too early and you'll be aggressively scrubbing speed and damaging your tyres as well as dramatically impacting exit speed.
Paul Ricard requires a careful balance between straight line speed and responsiveness. The final sector of the track is very technical, and there are a number of chicanes that create sharp changes of direction. You will be tempted to run a Monza-level setup here, but this is more like Baku, and your aerodynamic setup should reflect that. You can find our setup here, but remember that your own driving style as well as level of assists may mean you need a few tweaks to unlock your ultimate pace.