Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2019

Remove Mistral chicane to improve races at Paul Ricard – Wolff

2019 French Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has suggested removing the Mistral chicane from the Paul Ricard circuit to improve the quality of racing at the track.

Following a largely processional French Grand Prix dominated by the two Mercedes, Wolff said the quality of racing in F1 is “very circuit-specific” and a change of track layout at the French venue could help improve matters.

“Paul Ricard has all the ingredients that we need: In the south of France, glamorous, it’s a fantastic venue. And maybe we just need to have a very long straight rather than a chicane in between to allow for more slipstreaming.

“I believe it will certainly increase the show. For me the principle topic to tackle for the future is how can we have the greatest possible circuit layouts.”

FIA race director Michael Masi said the potential knock-on effects of removing the chicane, which would create a long run into the high-speed Signer corner, would have to be considered.

“I think it’s something that we’d have to look at, consider on its merits, have a look at the various data and go from there.

“There’s all of the flow-on impacts that might be a great idea at that point but move it down another 500 meters and you might have some consequences that we haven’t considered. So at the current point, no, but we’re happy to look at what comes up.”

Wolff pointed out F1 had enjoyed better races recently at tracks with longer straights. “You can see that we had good racing in Montreal, we had great racing in Baku.

“If we get the rules right for 2021 in terms of aerodynamic efficiency and the turbulence that you create behind the cars and look at some new, exciting sporting regulations, I think these are the ingredients to make a good show. But like in football you will have boring matches and you will have exciting matches.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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34 comments on “Remove Mistral chicane to improve races at Paul Ricard – Wolff”

  1. The chicane is fine, most cars already found it easy to pass with DRS, if anything the DRS zone needs to be shortened in front of it.
    The issues for this track are the lack of any peril for the driver if they make a mistake, and no scenery anywhere to look at, just a vast expanse of back, blue and red.

    1. I would take out both the chicane and DRS.

      I remember one of the selling points of DRS was that it was a flexible tool, as the length, frequency, and placement of the zones could be modified at will. But that seems to have fallen by the wayside. It would be nice to see them eliminated at the longest straights, like Baku, where slipstreaming is powerful enough.

    2. Paul Ricard is possibly the most hideous track on the calendar. It almost hurts my eyes to watch it. Also the fact that there are barely any consequences to running off the track makes it a horrible race too. They talk about cars going off the track to overtake… if there was grass there or other surfaces that are detrimental to the car and performance then drivers would be far more careful and probably make more driving mistakes as a result.

  2. I know this is not the right forum but here it is anway:
    French GP has a rating of 3.48/10 on the Rate the Race feature after 240 votes.
    I think this is the second or third race this season to enter the RaceFans Bottom 10 (the list gets updated once a year i suppose) with the French GP 2019 having the lowest rating so far !!

    1. isaac (@invincibleisaac)
      24th June 2019, 14:49

      @webtel The majority of the races so far this year have been quite disappointing so if by the end of the year there is a “Lowest rate the race average across one season” I would expect this to be the lowest of any season. Canada however seemed to get a lot of harsh ratings due to the penalty so I suspect that it will be put as the lowest ever Grand Prix rating come the end of the year, and Paul Ricard not too far behind.

      1. Right now, the French Grand Prix is rated 3.35, the Canadian Grand Prix 4.40, and the Spanish Grand Prix 4.53. The next lowest, China, had 4.81 last time I checked. This would put the order as follows:
        10. 2019 Spanish Grand Prix – 4.53/10
        9. 2008 Chinese Grand Prix – 4.45/10
        8. 2019 Canadian Grand Prix – 4.40/10
        7. 2018 Canadian Grand Prix – 4.24/10
        6. 2014 Russian Grand Prix – 4.06/10
        5. 2008 European Grand Prix – 3.98/10
        4. 2011 European Grand Prix – 3.87/10
        3. 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – 3.74/10
        2. 2010 German Grand Prix – 3.74/10
        1. 2019 French Grand Prix -3.35/10
        The current season average is 5.51, which is, by far, the lowest we’ve had since Rate The Race’s inception. In order to beat 2009’s score, an average of 6.85 per race left this season is required. 8.51 per race would be required to reach 2012’s score.
        I wish Keith updated Rate the Race more often.

        1. @talcumpowder
          Nice work mate.


          Canada however seemed to get a lot of harsh ratings due to the penalty so I suspect that it will be put as the lowest ever Grand Prix rating come the end of the year,

          I think the dust has settled now.
          Nevertheless, i agree that 2019 will see the lowest season average.

          1. isaac (@invincibleisaac)
            26th June 2019, 10:44

            @webtel It would have been interesting if there was a “rate the race” for every Formula One race since 1950 and I wonder which races would’ve achieved the highest/lowest scores – any guesses? I would imagine that races like Monaco 82 and Nurburgring 99 would have scored well but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the 2005 USA GP would have scored the lowest rating ever had it been around then.

  3. I think this is a good idea and have said so since the return of Paul Ricard was announced, but for slightly different reasons.

    If the full Mistral was used, the teams would have to set the cars up differently to take advantage of the longer straight, which would compromise them round the rest of the lap. So you would have trimmed out cars trying to attack tricky sequences of corners with less downforce than they would ideally like to bolt on, just like in in Baku. It would be great watching a trimmed out car trying to tackle Signes and Bousset with relatively low downforce levels.

    1. Exactly @geemac, that’s my main reason I’d like the idea, makes those fast corners harder to do without error, so who knows that could maybe lead to an overtake. (And also, this year, it might have made Ferrari just a bit more competitive with their more (too?) efficient car; Verstappen would not have been 4th, but probably a great fight between him and the McLarens.)

      1. Indeed. The one caveat I’d put on this is I would only like this if the straight wasn’t a DRS zone. If they insist on needing 2 DRS zones, they could stick them on the pit straight and between turns 2 and 3.

      2. Agreed. Set up will be different and cars sliding more. Or add another drs after the chicane. Some cars reached over 300km on that straight without drs. Just a thought

    2. This.

      It’s the unique challenge of the circuit, nullifying it with the chicane makes it more of a test configuration to me. There’s absolutely no way they’re going through Signes flat out if they’re arriving over 300kph!

  4. DRS passes on very long straight lines isnt exactly thrilling, as boring to watch as no overtake. Its not fun when the driver behind just sits and wait through the lap for the long straight and passes like its monday morning on the way to work (Baku for example). Making it harder to setup the car for the specific circuit is of course good (As you guys discuss above), and make corners trickier. I really really really hope they sort the fundamental issue with the Aero regulations..!

    If DRS really is necessary, an idea to improve racing is to use the DRS as push to pass in Indy, where you can use it in defense aswell, and most importantly only have a limited amount available. Which makes the strategy more important and maybe a bit more varied. However it wont change Merc dominance in any way :)

    1. Yep, if they could only use DRS 10 times in a race then that would make it better in my opinion.

  5. Most of the passing happens at that chicane, if anything it should be made tighter, as should T1. Cars still get to 8th gear going into seignes anyway so it makes little sense to take out the chicane.

  6. How about removing this sleep-inducing circuit from the calendar? Would rather bring back Magny-Cours if a French GP is necessary.

    1. Completely agree. If memory serves, Magny-Cours didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but it was still better, and it looks like a proper racetrack, where you can’t just go wide, if you went in too hot.

    2. @godius The racing at Magny-Cours would be far, far worse than at Paul Ricard.

  7. The chicane is fine and it provided all the entertainment of the race, albeit with Drs much too strong of course. But the rest of the track there wasnt a hint of passing for the whole race, I’m not a fan of the circuit layout.

  8. I think removing Paul Ricard from the calendar would be the way to go.
    It looks horrible, no consequence when making a mistake and really just boring racing.

  9. There’s no point having super safe cars if they don’t start opening up the tracks…

  10. The problem with this track are the bloody red, blue, black stripes all-over!!! I was watching on TV and couldn’t say where they were on the track! The worst yrack to watch by far!
    Bring back zero run of areas…curbs, gravel and grass everywhere! Let’s see who cuts a corner then! And if drivers make a mistake… that would be the end of the race for them!

    1. @fanatikosf1 See Montreal 2019.

  11. He’s probably right. These cars produce a really good tow & if they removed the chicane & removed the DRS zone down that straight you would likely see a lot more slipstreaming battles & side by side racing down to Signes.
    Removing the chicane & keeping it a DRS zone would probably make things too easy & given how signes is flat out i’m not sure they could run that as a DRS zone without the chicane anyway.

    Drivers generally like the layout as it offers a technical challenge & has a really nice flow to it, It was always a popular circuit amongst drivers. There only issue has been the chicane which I think they all want to be removed.

    1. @gt-racer Whether Signes would be possible with DRS activated without the chicane or not is difficult to judge, but it isn’t a tight corner, definitely not as tight-turning as the likes of 130R, Abbey, or Blanchimont in comparison, so DRS through that corner would at least be easier than through the other two I mentioned.

      1. @jerejj The cars could likely do it easily while on there own on low fuel/fresh tires in practice/qualifying but i’m not sure the FIA would want to risk it under racing conditions because trying it if your 2 wide, In dirty air or on worn tires would maybe be looked at as risking things a bit too much.

      2. ‘Other three’ I forgot to change that part as well when adding Blanchimont later.

  12. Agreed. Running without the chicane would also bring in a setup-headache as an added challenge for the teams similar to Baku and Spa, so that could make things interesting around the rest of the circuit.

  13. Yes and no. No: the chicane is a surprisingly good overtaking spot (or at least it was), so removing might not be such a good idea. Most tracks would kill for a spot like that. Of course, most of the overtaking at least last year was done already halfway down the straight, so the DRS zone was overpowered with the tow the cars were getting.

    Yes: then again, a unique challenge with such a long straight would be much preferred, and they would probably not have a DRS zone in it due to the next corner being so fast (compare to Eau Rouge or 130R).

  14. I would love to see DRS done differently. Complete unfair advantage for the chasing car even more so when it’s a top team. It’s practically a ‘pass inferior car with ease’ button right now. Why not remove all the DRS zones and just allow the drivers to implement it whenever they want and for as long as they want. That would basically make it an on the fly rear wing adjustment, leave it to the driver to see how late they will reset it approaching a turn. Could make for some exciting late braking moments.

  15. Good reason for the chicane were the filled grandstands last year. For this year they could have steamed straight to Signes as there were barely any spectators anyway.

  16. roberto giacometti
    25th June 2019, 6:36

    Once upon a time … (cue the music) , I remember the good old days when the Signes corner was one that sorted out the men from the boys – no chicane at all, and if you went around it flat, that was an achievement that the drivers held in high esteem.
    Why is there a chicane there?
    These are supposed to be the 20 hotshot pilots on the planet – if they cannot handle it, then they should go back to F2 Or F3 or retire !!!

  17. Take a look:
    The chicane is there to sell grandstand tickets.

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