The circuit was designed primarily as a testing facility, so the track bears the scars of alternative potential track layouts. These can be confusing to work around for your first few laps, so make sure you get a good handle of where you’re supposed to be going.
Once you’ve got that nailed, you can start to refine your lap and squeeze the maximum out of your car. That’s where this guide comes in to help.
Turns 1 & 2
As you enter the braking zone for turn 1, aim to have your car as far to the right of the track as possible, so that only your left-hand wheels are still inside the white line.
ONE-TWO PUNCH: The opening chicane at Paul Ricard punishes slight mistakes
Your braking point here is 100m before the corner, which you can spot from the 100m board on the left of the track.
The minimum speed for turn one is roughly 115mph, at which point you should be in 5th gear. Take a significant amount of the inside kerb, cutting the corner with around half of your car. Your left front tyre should run over the small yellow stripes in the kerb.
Don’t run wide on the exit of turn 1, or else you will heavily compromise yourself for turn 2. You will need to lift the throttle a little to keep yourself at roughly 130mph for the apex, remaining in 5th gear. Again, you want to cut the corner with half of your car here.
Turns 3 - 5
Once you’ve made it to turn 3, brake 75m before the corner. You should run along the inside kerb with almost your whole car, so that your front right tyre almost touches the short yellow bollard.
VIEWPOINT: Turn 3 features a nice view of the mountains beyond
As you hit the apex of 3 you should be in 5th gear going about 125mph. You will then continue to decelerate on the exit, braking again for turn 4 which comes straight after turn 3.
As wit turn 3, take as much of the inside kerb for 4 as you can. Keep a very tight line with a minimum speed of 76mph in 4th gear. It’s important that you continue to steer towards the left of the track in preparation for turn 5.
After a brief moment of acceleration on the exit of 4, you’ll brake hard again for 5. Just like in turn 3, you should aim to get your front right tyre as close to the yellow bollard as you can without touching it.
As you pass the bollard, you should be in 2nd gear travelling at 60mph. As you exit turn 5, be careful not to run too far onto the kerbs on your left as these will hinder your ability to output power towards turn 6.
Turns 6 & 7
As soon as you’re out of turn 5 you’re turning in for turn 6. When you do so, you’ll need to lift the throttle to about 40% application. The lightest brush with the inside kerb is what you want here.
NOT SO FAST: Be careful not to plant the throttle too early at turn 6
As soon as you are clear of the sign that says turn 6 on your right, you should be able to wind on the power pretty quickly. Use all of the width of the track to help you get up to speed quicker.
Turn 7, which follows immediately after turn 6, can be taken fully flat out. Be careful not to clunk the inside kerbs too hard here, or the car will become unsettled.
Turns 8 & 9
Following the DRS straight after turn 7 is the turn 8 and 9 chicane. Like for turn 1, you should aim to get your car as close to being off track on the right of the circuit as you can without leaving the track entirely. This will ensure that you can open up your line for turn 8 itself.
GOING DEEP: You can run wide on the exit of turn 8 without losing much time in turn 9
Brake a little after the 100m board, and aim to cut the inside kerb significantly. Once again, the short yellow bollard is your reference point. As with turns 3 and 5, you should get as close as you can to it without touching it.
As you pass the bollard you should be moving at around 118mph in 4th gear, but you should still be applying the brakes a small amount throughout turn 8.
You should then continue your deceleration as you get towards turn 9. Here, as at most corners at Circuit Paul Ricard, you will want to take a healthy amount of the inside kerb.
The minimum speed for turn 9 is roughly 70mph, which you should reach in 3rd gear. By the time you reach the yellow stripes on the inside kerb, you should already be starting to put down the power.
You can lean quite heavily on the exit kerb to help you to get the throttle maxed as soon as possible. This will give you a great run through the flat out turn 10 until you reach 11.
Turn 11 is a very difficult corner to judge, and it requires a lot of bravery and belief in your car and yourself.
A CHANGE OF SCENE: Turn 11 features a new colour of runoff area
You should turn in for the corner as the entry kerb on your left ends, shortly after the 50m board. At this point, you should still be at full throttle. Aim to get to the inside kerb quickly to take your first apex of this double-apex corner.
Start to brake just before you reach the first of the small red squares to the right of the inside kerb. You should adjust your brake application throughout the corner to match your trajectory. If you find yourself running too far wide, go a little harder on the brakes.
The minimum speed you should be reaching through here is about 105mph in 4th gear.
You should take your second apex where the two yellow stripes on the inside are. By the time you reach these, you should already be at almost full throttle. Let the car run wide on the exit before moving back over to the right for turn 12.
The braking point for turn 12 is perhaps even more difficult to spot than that of 11. Once again, it is the tiny red squares which are your friends.
ALMOST HAD IT: Turn 12 can be the most frustrating corner of the circuit
As you pass the last of the four red squares on the outside of the entry to turn 12, jump on the brakes. Be careful with your braking, though, as it is very easy to lock up here.
Take a wide line for the first part of the corner, but try to bring the car to a late apex, once again aiming for the yellow bollard on the inside.
Your minimum speed for turn 12 is roughly 78mph in 4th gear. As with several other corners in France, you should already be on the throttle somewhat before you reach your apex.
Turn 13 is simply the exit of turn 12, and you need not worry about it much. Just make sure that you don’t use too much of the exit kerb or else you may spin out.
Turns 14 & 15
For turn 14, you should brake 10m or so after the 50m board. Once again, make sure that you are as far to the right as possible here.
HOME STRETCH: Turn 15 is a tough corner on which to end the lap
The corner should be taken at 100mph in 4th gear, with a late apex being beneficial for your entry to turn 15. You should meet the inside kerb where the 2nd horizontal white line crosses the track.
Keep the car pinned to the left of the track as best you can to gain a better angle for turn 15.
Once you’ve left turn 14, you’ll soon need to brake hard for turn 15. Take the car down to 2nd gear and 50mph, and aim to clip the inside kerb every so slightly. The kerb can cause problems if you take too much here.
Straighten the car as soon as you can on the exit, and floor the throttle towards the line. Make sure that you avoid the outside kerb here at all costs, as running onto it will lose you at least a couple of tenths.
If you want to extract every last drop of performance out of your car in France, you'll need a good setup too. Not to worry, we've got you covered with our French Grand Prix setup guide.