Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, Paul Ricard, 2019

Paul Ricard could change Mistral chicane for 2020 but will keep asphalt run-offs

2020 French Grand Prix

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Paul Ricard may use a different version of the chicane on its longest straight for this year’s French Grand Prix.

The race promoters are already considering changes to the first sector of the track in order to encourage teams to run lower downforce levels, which they hope will make overtaking easier.

Several drivers and F1 figures have suggested removing the Mistral chicane to aid overtaking. Although restoring the Mistral straight to its full, uninterrupted length would further encourage teams to run less downforce on the cars, the promoters are believed to be unwilling to remove the chicane as a grandstand overlooks it.

However Jarno Zaffelli, owner of Dromo Circuit Design who have developed the track revisions, said possible changes to the layout of the chicane are among the alterations which have been submitted to the FIA for consideration.

The overall philosophy behind the changes is to ease some of the corners, said Zaffelli. “The current working group led by Craig Wilson at FOM is pushing very hard and with the same principle that we took it on board and we made a proposal to FIA. So it is definitely making quicker but there are different options that we are evaluating and they are evaluating now.

“They need to evaluate on the chicane because the chicane is going to stay, but not necessarily in the current configuration. There are a lot of possible configurations there and they are evaluating what would be more feasible and do-able according to their needs. That’s why I’m not sure yet which kind of configuration will be approved.”

The circuit including the start/finish area can already be run in 160 different corner combinations because of the large number of alternative routes at several corners. However the changes being considered could include building further new corners, said Zaffelli.

“There is the potential of doing some other configurations,” he said. “It’s something that we will know in the next few weeks because the works will be done in advance of the Formula 1 event. We are targeting March and to complete in April.”

However he confirmed there will be no changes to the circuit’s distinctive all-asphalt, blue and red-coloured run-off areas.

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Paul Ricard Mistral chicane variations

The current Paul Ricard track allows for eight different track configurations of the Mistral chicane. Version C has been used for the two races since the track returned to the calendar in 2018. However Version A, which bypasses the chicane entirely, will not be used this year.

Paul Ricard chicane configurations
Paul Ricard chicane configurations

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Keith Collantine
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31 comments on “Paul Ricard could change Mistral chicane for 2020 but will keep asphalt run-offs”

  1. If there must be a chicane, I would like to see two criteria fulfilled: 1) it enables overtaking (well, most of the overtaking in the previous years was already done way before the chicane, but let’s hope the DRS zone might be reduced or the wind blows from the right direction to stop the highway passes), 2) it is somehow challenging to drive or unique, like the pre-2000 first chicane at Monza. Configurations like B, D, or F do not seem very good, so I would maybe go with the simplest opinion that is G.

  2. I wish they’d ty version A for at least a single season, but if never, preferably E or G then.

      1. G is the best option for F1, version A the worst. @jerejj

        1. @megatron Yes, you replied to me before that using the full-length of the Mistral straight wouldn’t make a difference to the top-end speeds towards Signes compared to the C-version used thus far since the circuit’s F1-return. However, I still wish that’d happen at least once so that there’d be another massively long full-throttle stretch to rival Baku’s longest flat out-section. But I’d be okay with either E or G as well since there’d be less turning with those options than with C, i.e., the closest alternatives to driving the straight at its full-length.

  3. Sometimes you are spoilt for choice, but here all options genuinely seem poor. At best E or G remind me of the old bus stop at spa.

    Surely in this massive expanse of open tarmac its got to be possible to design a chicane that allows for overtaking, ideally with the potential for a switch back.

  4. Does anybody know when we’re going to get rid of this atrocity?

    1. Given that the owner is the poison dwarf, I imagine he has tied it into a nice lucrative long term contract.

  5. The cars have never been safer on a track with some of the largest run offs and they still insist on a chicane?…

    1. It’s due to the economic reasons, there are granstands overseeing this part of the track. Still a terrible circuit.

      1. There are tonnes of fans who would prefer a stand in a place of very high speeds.

        1. seeing the braking from high speeds is what I think most fans prefer.

  6. all considering, maybe it would be easier to just change the race track, since the current one simply doesn’t fit modern Formula 1 racing, not to mention a highly poor access to the Paul Ricard venue…

  7. Option A. And make it an oval :-)

    Yellow vests could block the track at a random point in the GP to spice up the racing.

  8. H looks like quite an unusual bit of corners! But, hope they go for that simple G (indeed reminding me of the Spa bus-stop, which often provided some interesting moments)

  9. G would be cool. Reasonably high speed.

  10. This track is great for testing wet tyres just open the sprinkel system and flood the track.

    1. That would actually be the best thing for excitement at this track.

  11. What if every lap the drivers had to do a different configuration (yes I realize that’s logistically impossible but it would make it more interesting)

    1. I actually had a very outlandish idea a year or so ago which involved one section of a track splitting in to a ‘super special stage’ style head-to-head battle, to ensure a close battle without aero becoming effected. It would be absolute brilliant mayhem at the start of a race, watching the 2 fleets of cars emerge back on to the straight battling for positions.

  12. Option A: never go back there
    Option B: D since it offers two corners where you might outbreak the other guy, or one overtake and switch back

  13. Seeing as many people here favour option G, I can be quite confident in stating that is not the option that F1 will choose.

  14. A major problem with that chicane isn’t within the track-layout, but rather the run-off. A defending driver tricked into the outside lane under braking can just easily brake very late or slightly too late, and if he doesn’t make the chicane just retain the position by going wide and immediately shouting into the radio: “He pushed me off the track!”.
    With gras, gravel or a barrier that same situation is a yield, a significant time loss or a DNF.

  15. How do the drivers know which track option to choose? There doesn’t seem to be any arrows on the track or signs telling them which way to go.

  16. They could just use smart road technology and change the layout every time there’s a 20-second gap between a car exiting the chicane and the one behind.

    Chicane watching to see which layout was next would probably be more interesting than the race.

    1. @neilosjames You should copyright that concept and charge Formula E a licensing fee when they starting doing the same…

    2. The worst track on the calendar by far. Abu Dhabi is number 2. Pity we can’t have races on decent tracks instead of places where money talks.

  17. G and H wpud provide the best chance for the lead car to make a mistake and the follower to take advantage so those two get my vote.

  18. They could always just use no chicane.

    I know the counter will be ‘oh but we need the overtaking opportunity’ but most of the overtakes that we have seen take place there would likely have still happened without it & with a longer run for slip-streaming we’d likely get more side by side racing on the run to Signes.

    But if they want to alter the layout I say use this one.

    1. It’s because they’ve invested money in a grandstand at the chicane.

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