Should F1 replace Paul Ricard with Imola on its 2022 calendar?

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Two European circuits are vying for one of the few remaining places on the 2022 F1 calendar.

Paul Ricard was expected to remain as the venue of the French Grand Prix next year. The track which first held an F1 race 50 years ago returned to the calendar in 2018, but skipped last year when Covid-19 struck.

The pandemic also brought about the unexpected return of Imola to the schedule. Having held an autumnal race in 2020, it was the venue of the second round of this year’s world championship.

As RaceFans revealed last month Italy’s ‘other’ F1 circuit is under consideration for another race next year in the slot occupied by the French Grand Prix. With seemingly no room in a schedule which is already expected to feature 23 races, something’s got to give.

Which track should F1 choose?

Paul Ricard

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2021
Paul Ricard has held 17 grands prix…

Formula 1 has a significant contingent of French competitors including engine manufacturer Renault and its Alpine brand, plus drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly (and potentially Theo Pourchaire next year). A French round on the calendar is therefore a must.

The Paul Ricard track layout has been criticised for producing unexciting races, but this year’s grand prix was a marked improvement. This came about not just thanks to the closer competition in the F1 field this year, but subtle alterations to the track itself.

Imola

…F1 has visited Imola 29 times

The championship’s return to a reworked Imola track was an instant success. While it remains one of the harder circuits to overtake on, the narrow confines and limited run-off area makes it a far more challenging circuit than Paul Ricard with its vast expanses of asphalt run-off.

Formula 1 has held multiple Italian rounds in the past, such as from 1981 to 2006 where it raced at both Imola and Monza, so it wouldn’t be a serious departure from tradition to regularly have two races in the same country.

I say

This is a ‘heart versus head’ question for me. Imola has enormous appeal as a picturesque, old-school venue. It’s also a fantastic showcase of the cornering abilities of modern Formula 1 cars.

Paul Ricard doesn’t measure up quite as well, though it would stand a better chance if the promoters reversed the baffling decision to interrupt its distinctive Mistral straight with an awkward chicane.

That said, it doesn’t feel right for one country to have two races when many others have none. Especially in the case of France, which has decades of motorsport heritage and many competitors in the championship today. Paul Ricard isn’t without its flaws, but I’d rather see F1 race there in 2022.



You say

Should Imola replace Paul Ricard on the Formula 1 calendar for 2022? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Which track should F1 race at next year?

  • Paul Ricard, France (27%)
  • Imola, Italy (64%)
  • No opinion (9%)

Total Voters: 229

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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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64 comments on “Should F1 replace Paul Ricard with Imola on its 2022 calendar?”

  1. I’d go with Hockenheim or the Nurburgring personally, but of these two options, I’d prefer Imola any day. I agree France definitely should have a round, just not at Paul Ricard.

    1. @tommy-c France doesn’t really have any alternatives besides Magny-Cours, which is worse than Circuit Paul Ricard.

      1. I’d rather watch a train at Magny Cours than a train at Paul Ricard.

    2. Why not both or all? Do the dictatorships of China, Russia, SA and whatever the new one is all pay more money than these European and American ones? Qatar or some garbage like that.

    3. I’m in the minority here. Racing at Paul Ricard hasn’t been horrible. Imola is way worst for racing in this cars. The race seemed interesting because of the rain and the red flag. But it’s a dreadful track to watch on TV.

      Paul Ricard just looks dull on TV because of the lack of green areas, the distance between the track and the grandstands, and the facilities in general.

      Imola is just exciting because if it’s history and that it’s challenging for drivers. But it provides garbage racing. I don’t understand why we’re talking as though it provided good racing

    4. Neither. Dijon please.

      1. I think they won’t go there because it’s too short. Maybe they’d change that since the short circuit in Bahrain is used as well tho.

  2. While I totally agree that France deserves a round in the championship because of its motorsport heritage (it is called the Grand Prix, after all), my vote goes to Imola, solely because I think it is a better track. Paul Ricard just isn’t a great track (despite the exciting race in 2021), so I would not choose it over a proper old-school circuit like Imola. Maybe France could look to a different track for a potential race (I quite like Magny-Cours, although it too would probably be unpopular with a lot of fans). Personally, the idea of a country hosting multiple races in a year does not bother me if that country has multiple good tracks, as Italy does. As I have said in the past, I would love to see F1 return to Brands Hatch and Donington one day, even if that is not possible at the moment, but would hate for Silverstone to be ousted from the calendar.

  3. France should have a round, but not at the expense of Imola.
    Imola in fact should be recognized as one of F1’s most important circuits in terms of heritage (together with tracks like Monza, Monaco or Spa) and sheer greatness that few tracks can match today.
    The current Imola layout is just brilliant, with its high demand for speed and performance, offering epic racing, and being a joy to just watch cars drive around it. This value shouldn’t get diminished.

    If France wants to hold a round, they should offer sth better than the current version of Paul Ricard, which is an abomination of a racing track for myself and apparently many other fans.

    And the most ironic thing: Paul Ricard had the ugly chicane added on what had always been a long straight, whereas Imola had a chicane removed from where there had always been one. One was scared of speed, the other embraced the love of speed. Imola for the win! <3

  4. No Imola could replace Silverstone.
    Would you like french to write that ? 😁

    1. Silverstone held the first championship round in 1950.

      Paul Ricard is a test track.

      Would like a French GP but PR is not a great track.

      1. Though he does have some point. Us non-Brits usually don’t really care much about Silverstone. I’ve never liked the track, not for F1. Paul Ricard is something else, it literally hurts my eyes with the idiotic colour scheme. I’m pretty sure watching racing there could cause epilepsy.

  5. P Ricard is visually boring and doesn’t produce the best races. It is designed as a test track.
    I agree with the poster Tommy-C above, though, and think Nurburgring is a more appropriate replacement as Imola is a second Italian race and the circuit is not the best for exciting racing unless it is wet.

  6. Under dry and normal conditions with the current spec cars neither of them seems to be able to produce quality racing, but honestly, almost none of the other tracks can. If 2022 specification cars deliver what they are expected to, both of them could be a hit, just like any other track.

    I agree that France should have a spot on the calendar, I agree that Paul Ricard might not be the best venue they have to offer, but if we stick to it, at least try out other configurations/variations/layouts, because the track allows it (this year, instead of a second round in Spielberg, it would have been nice to sample a different layout at Paul Ricard). I don’t neccessarily agree that a country shouldn’t host multiple events at multiple locations. But first of all, I think Formula One has more urgent issues to solve, than merely swapping tracks.

  7. Imola’s usually more fun to watch than Paul Ricard, so yeah I’d say so. Surely there are better racetracks in France to go to?

    1. @rocketpanda Not really. Magny-Cours is even worse for racing.

  8. That isn’t even a choice.

    France should have a race, I agree with that sentiment. How about that one planned Paris street track around the Arc de Triomphe and av. Foch and back av. de a grande Armee ?

    1. @uneedafinn2win Closing down Paris streets mightn’t necessarily work.

  9. There are so many good tracks in Europe but so little space in the calendar. I’d keep French GP but try a different layout of the circuit and bring back European GP which could alter each season between Imola, Nürburgring, Hockenheim, Portimão and the likes.

  10. Jonathan Parkin
    2nd October 2021, 14:30

    I seem to remember when the French Grand Prix moved to Magny Cours there were complaints because it was in the middle of nowhere didn’t produce great racing (1999 excepted)

    I don’t mind the layout that the F1 drivers use but I’d get rid of everything else (yes I would keep the chicane on grounds of safety) but I’d get rid of the Day-Glo tarmac run offs and multiple layouts and just keep it as the F1 layout only.

  11. Paul Ricard a circuit?
    I always thought it was a directed drinking pause for the lads..

  12. Pipe dream but I would like Lemans proper track. Safety will of course stop this and rightfully so. Suppose you could say Nordschleife if we are dreaming however is Lemans that unrealistic. Closing speeds between classes does not exist in F1, they would not be racing at night and the LMP1 cars of around 2016 were nearly as fast as what next years F1 cars are likely to be.

    1. The changes required to make it appropriate for F1 would make it inappropriate for endurance racing.

      1. Yes u r right. Just for conversation though why would you need to change it for F1? LMP1 cars a few years back were just about as fast as next years F1 cars will be.

  13. No. If pr is to be replaced it should be hockenheim or nurburgring.

  14. I’d rather see Streatham High Street than Paul Ricard.
    Even if they left the high street open to traffic.

    1. @sham Ha! I’d pay to see that, traffic lights would have to be factored into strategy, but than Paul Ricard anyway.

      1. *better than Paul Ricard

  15. France has some great tracks but I can’t think of any which has a chance to figure on the F1 calendar :

    – Le Mans : for “political” reasons
    – Dijon : too short
    – Charade : too dangerous
    – Lédenon : too short and too narrow

    Paul Ricard is not great, but is not the worst of tracks either. It is visually unappealing, but not that bad to drive. And one can overtake, unlike Magny-Cours. I agree that the Mistral chicane should not be used, though.

    1. Unfortunately, the realistic choice is much smaller and contains only those 2 tracks.

      Grade 1 tracks (i.e. elligible for hosting an F1 event) in France:
      – Magny Cours
      – Paul Ricard

      Grade 2 tracks that potentially could get upgraded to G1:
      – Circuit de la Sarthe – we know this wouldn’t happen
      – Circuit de Lédenon
      – Circuit du Val de Vienne
      – Circuit Paul Armagnac
      – Dijon-Prenois

    2. some racing fan
      3rd October 2021, 10:06

      Charade these days is 2.5 miles long- a far cry from the 5-mile public road monster it used to be- it could host an F1 race, but of course it would need to be upgraded considerably and widened a bit.

  16. Anything and anywhere but Paul Richard. Please. Even a non race weekend.

  17. Anything but Paul Ricard. It’s so bland to watch, every part of the track looks the same, it’s so dull. I actively dislike the circuit.

    What’s the deal with Magny Cours. That track was always pretty epic to me.

    1. @davidhunter13 Magny-Cours is even worse for racing/overtaking, and even otherwise, I find Paul Ricard more enjoyable to drive.

      1. Seriously?
        Even in the worst of seasons in terms of overtaking, Magny Cours – with its long straights leading to hairpins – always produced overtaking.

        1. @amian The hairpin was the only decent overtaking place, following the single proper length straight.

  18. John (@barbsandwich)
    2nd October 2021, 16:54

    Magny-Cours instead of Paul Ricard. That should’ve been the poll.

    1. @barbsandwich Between these two, I definitely prefer the former, both for racing and driving.

  19. I voted for ‘no opinion’ because I don’t really care either way. For Circuit Paul Ricard, I wish for another configuration, either w/o any chicane version or the one that turns immediately right after the present left + slightest T1-T2 alternative.

  20. Given the stark choice I voted for Imola. It’s definitely the more interesting and attractive circuit. However I do agree with the sentiment that ideally, France should hold a race.

    Maybe they could give PR a year off so that it’s layout could be revised. Then have it return for 2023 or later.

    I am quite happy to see Imola back on the calendar though and hope it keeps it’s place.

  21. Short answer: Yes.

    Long answer: Yes.

  22. Should F1 replace Paul Ricard with Imola on its 2022 calendar?
    Yes!

  23. I am all in favour of France hosting a race.
    Ricard looks like S#1t and runs like S#1t.
    Imola is an old and outdated track but it is still better than RetchHard.

  24. Frankly both tracks generate the same quality of racing. Imola is much trickier.

  25. Every other year at one. Same with the other great tracks mentioned in previous posts.

  26. Bit like giving a vegetarian the option between a steak and a sausage roll. Imola is a poor track for racing in ‘ordinary’ conditions, and Paul Ricard is… not as bad, but it’s such an unpleasant-looking circuit that I don’t look forward to watching a race on it.

    Didn’t want to do the no opinion option, so voted for Paul Ricard for a few reasons – mostly because it offers a better chance of an actual race, rather than a procession on a nice-looking bit of tarmac. Also because Italy already has a GP, and I’d rather keep the French GP on the calendar. Oh, and a tiny, tiny extra reason… because I can’t stand the Covid-era names they stick on extra races.

    But in an ideal world it’d be neither of them. Ignoring financial reality (which an ideal world would allow), I’d much rather see Germany back on the calendar, or Portimao, or Istanbul, or Sepang, or an upgraded Kyalami, or if we have to have two in Italy, Mugello…

  27. We need tracks that are suited for F1 cars and makes overtaking possible. Only one of the above fits that description, and it’s definately not Imola.
    The problem with Paul Richard is that its just a painted track on a large asphalted area and has no identity.

  28. Magny-Cours provided real drama, on the opening kinks, at the hairpin, on the back straight and at the final chicane. Paul Ricard is even worse than Caesar’s Palace car park – remember that dud? it has zero character.

  29. Tear up a lot of asphalt, plant grass, remove the paint (which I find REALLY obnoxious to look at) and the chicane and Paul Ricard is good to go.

  30. To be $ure, the deci$ion will be made in the be$t intere$t$ of F1.

  31. The question is if whether we shall we have a track where racing is practically impossible, or one where it is, and people predictably chose the one with no racing because the track looks nice.

  32. some racing fan
    3rd October 2021, 10:04

    One track that should host the French GP (again) is Montlhery, which is just outside Paris, minus the concrete banking of course. The road course without the banking is 3.9 miles long, and it will need some upgrading (incl. a new pits facility) to host a GP, but why not? A GP outside one of the world’s greatest cities (and HQ of the FIA, conincidentally) would be ideal.

  33. They could replace the new Paul Ricard with two hours of dentistry and it would still be better. Paul Ricard was a great, place until they had the brilliant idea of destroying the natural setting and replacing it with a candy striped carpark. It is horrible to watch and makes the cars look slow.

  34. 2 poor races IMO but Imola preferable purely on the basis that it’s very difficult to understand where on track the cars are at Paul Ricard. You have no perspective of corners and it hurts my eyes! Imola doesn’t provide very good racing and no country should have 2 races in a season given the options available elsewhere. Still… Imola wins out for me if it’s only a choice between these 2 tracks.

  35. I feel we need fewer rounds, so “Neither,” because the reductions must start somewhere.

  36. I voted for PR, but only because France should have one race and I’m not convinced that Imola is any better.

    But I’d love it to be pulled so Macron could recall a few more diplomats in protest.

  37. I don’t care if a country holds two (or more) races a year if the tracks are good.

    As traditions go, you wonder how a country with such a strong motorsport history holds the F1 grand prix at that horrible parking lot… never mind last race, which was good but not brilliant… every snorefest of a track and produce the odd good grand prix (Soichi this year, Valencia in 2012), doesn’t mean they are good or deserve a place in an already busy calendar.

    Paul Ricard would go and no one would miss it. But Imola is unique these days, as it’s very narrow, very fast, very pintoresque, and full of rich F1 history. People certainly noticed it was gone, and a lot of us are glad we managed to watch F1 races again there. And the drivers love it too.

    So a big, fat YES, yes F1 should replace Paul Ricard with Imola.

  38. I think Portimao or one of the German tracks would be a more exciting race, but Paul Richard wasn’t too bad this year. Maybe a better layout would liven things up.

  39. Definitely

  40. This is a high possibility.

  41. Deatheater4000
    3rd October 2021, 21:49

    Make all tracks wider for more over taking. or just get rid of the narrow 1s altogether. Predicable it has become. Reverse tracks. Reverse grid . Le man starts . Proper night racing with lights on the car. Its not a night race if it lite up brighter than it would be in the daytime

  42. Much prefer Imola to Paul Ricard. Hoping that F1TV change/tweak some camera positions for the next Imola race. Unlikely though

  43. Imola became dead to me back in 1994. I was surprised that it survived for as long as it did afterwards.

    Taking the subjective out of it, the 2 races this year and last weren’t great and imo that’s down to the track being unsuitable and a bit too narrow.

    Of the 2, I’d rather have Paul Ricard but without the chicane on the Mistral straight and run the race in the pre-1986 configuration. Or return to Mugello, which I think would be better than Imola if they move the safety-car line to be closer to the final corner.

  44. that will be july imola in july i dont believe better china out imola in paul ricad is good fast circiut lot off run areas classic circiutr this year good race in paul frech grand prix deserved be in caleendar idont like new circiuts

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