The French Grand Prix – Where it all Began

French Grand Prix - Speedy Reg
French Grand Prix – Speedy Reg

This weekend it’s the French Grand Prix, the oldest Grand Prix race in the world, and of course, where it all began. It was the French that came up with the title Grand Prix, meaning Great Prize and it referred to the cash prize for the first race back in 1906, a total of 45,000 francs for the winner. A huge sum back in those days, it truly was a great prize!

The French Grand Prix – a part of motor racing history

The French Grand Prix has a fascinating history. The circuit has moved regularly, with the current Circuit Paul Ricard being the latest of 16 circuits used in total. Although it has been used in the past, with Jackie Stewart winning his first race here in 1971, the French Grand Prix had been missing from the calender for over a decade until its return last year.

The race started out on public roads. These roads were made not for cars but for horses and carriages and so they were muddy and rutted and certainly not meant to be driven at speed. Motor racing will always have an element of danger, but back then it was lethal. Deaths of drivers, mechanics and spectators were very common. The original course took 12 hours to complete with each lap taking around an hour. It wasn’t until 1925 that a permanent, purpose built circuit was created with asphalt roads. This enabled drivers to race at higher speeds and it proved to be very popular with spectators, drawing massive crowds.

The French GP circuit stats

The drivers will cover 309.69km over 53 laps of 5.842km. The current lap record was set here last year by Valtteri Bottas with a time of 1:34.225. With 15 corners and some great overtaking opportunities, it’s a very thrilling circuit for spectators.

When and where to watch the French Grand Prix

Race coverage starts at 12:30pm on Sunday on Sky Sports F1. If you’re not a Sky Sports subscriber you can buy a one day pass to watch the race via Now TV for £8.99. There will also be highlights shown on Channel 4 at 7:00pm.

The Top Picks of GP plates

Our GP plates are just perfect for any Grand Prix fan. Our current favourites, all available through SpeedyReg right now are… 321 GP, 999 GP, 333 GP, 444 GP, 8080 GP and 1100 GP.