France is set to return to the Formula One calendar next season. Speaking in Bahrain F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone confirmed Le Castellet will host a race every other year.
The country which 'invented' Grand Prix racing at the start of the twentieth century has been without its own race since 2008. Back then race promoter FFSA, French motor racing's governing body, elected to cancel the event as it was not profitable. Despite a number of suggestions for alternate venues the race has never returned.
"We have a deal," Ecclestone confirmed to L'Equipe. "We agreed on the financial terms with the sports minister, David Douillet, who visited me on Tuesday. We are just discussing a few money details related to the race."
Le Castellet, or Paul Ricard as its more commonly known, hosted fourteen Grands Prix between 1971 and 1990 before the event moved to Magny-Cours. For a time it became a testing only facility, after Bernie Ecclestone bought it in 1999, though it now boasts grandstand seating for 5000 spectators. Strangely these overlook the final turn and not the pit straight.
It also proclaims itself to be the safest circuit in the world and in 2006 it became the first circuit to be recognised by the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety. There are two hotels and an airport nearby while inside the circuit there are a number of hospitality options and a generous pit complex for teams. The circuit itself has inbuilt sprinklers capable of simulating a wet track, a point which obviously makes the venue even more alluring for Ecclestone.
That the race is biannual would suggest one of the Spanish races, or the Belgian Grand Prix will likely alternate with it. Valencia and Barcelona have previously been linked with suggestions that they'll share an event, while murmurs from Belgium suggest promoters are looking at ways to reduce costs.