The Paul Ricard circuit in France is proof that under certain circumstances, drinking and driving do actually mix. The circuit was built in 1969 by the eponymous pastis magnate, who didn’t let his enthusiasm for strong liquor stand in the way of his passion for cars.
Having opened in 1970, as what was then a state-of-the-art facility, it then hosted the first of its 15 grands prix in 1971. The most of recent of those, of course, was only last year, when Paul Ricard returned to the calendar following a 28-year absence.
In the intervening time, the venue was re-invented as a high-technology test track (with around 167 different potential configurations) owned by a certain Bernie Ecclestone. Such was the former F1 ringmaster’s attention to detail that he even imported grass from his Biggin Hill airfield in England for the Paul Ricard pitlane, which he clearly felt was superior to the local French grass.
And then, along with the French Grand Prix, Paul Ricard returned as a race venue last year. A lot of the infrastructure was changed to meet the modern demands of F1, although many characteristics of the track remained familiar. The traffic jams to get into the track, for example. And also one of the longest straights seen in Formula 1.