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Paul Ricard chicane to be removed for 2019?

NEWS STORY
23/06/2018

When it was first announced that F1 would return to Paul Ricard after an absence of 28 years, for many the first thought was the legendary Mistral Straight, the 1.1 mile (1.8 km) back straight that led on to the infamous right-hander at Signes.

Alas, in the name of safety it was subsequently revealed that the straight would be divided by a chicane that would not only reduce speeds on the main part of the straight but also reduce entry speed on arriving at Signes.

Following yesterday's opening practice sessions however, a number of drivers were unhappy, and leading the way was Brendon Hartley who has run on the Mistral Straight, in all its glory, in an LMP1 car.

"I think a long straight line will potentially create more overtakes," said the kiwi, who earlier in the day was one of the first to be caught out by the sudden change of wind direction in Turn 6.

"I don't think it will happen for tomorrow," he added, "but I've tested and raced without the chicane, it makes things interesting because it's less downforce with the long straight line, Turn 10 becomes more of a corner, and so does the last sector with less downforce.

"Maybe it's a discussion point for next year. The good news is here there are plenty of options."

"We asked Charlie about this," added Sergio Perez, "to improve the overtaking, to improve the show, and make it more interesting.

"I think the best race we've had up to now this year has been in Baku," he added, referring to the street track in Azerbaijan whose long straight has provided plenty of daring overtakes, "and all the tracks should be taking some direction from that."

Even if the FIA agrees, no changes can be carried out until next year's event because this year's race sees the French track homologated with the chicane.

Like races fans watching on TV, a number of drivers weren't entirely happy with the red and blue run-off markings that surround the track, and the lack of recognisable reference points.

"There's a lot of different lines you can take and it's tricky to find reference points out on the track," said pace-setter Lewis Hamilton. "It's difficult to tell where you are. There's a couple of places, for example on the back straight where you're trying to find out where the corner is."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Paul Ricard, here.

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