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Grand Prix de France Historique - Circuit Paul Ricard - France

11th - 13th June 2021

Event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello

A week before the modern sequence of the French F1 Grand Prix, the history of car racing and Formula 1 took place on the weekend of June 12/13 on the Castellet circuit for the third edition of the Historic French Grand Prix.

More than 330 pilots were expected from around 20 countries.

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Masters Historic Formula One

The two races bringing together the F1 cars of the 1966/1985 period were undoubtedly the high point of this Historic French GP.

19 single-seaters were present for the free practices. 18 were on the starting grid for the two races of the meeting.

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The three-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Marco Werner was there to take his revenge at the Historic Monaco GP, still driving a Lotus 92 "ex Mansell 1983" in the famous JPS livery.

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The German was not lacking in opposition, notably against Williams FW07C from Irish Mike Cantillon and Belgian Christophe D'Ansembourg, Tyrrell 010 and 011 from English Jamie Constable and French Evens Stievenart, to the Lotus 77 from Nick Padmore, the Mac Maren M23 (1974 world champion) of the Austrian Lukas Halusa, the March 761 of Patrick D'Aubreby, the Arrows A1B of the Monegasque Fred Lajoux, etc.

The French colors were represented by a Ligier JS 1 from 1980 and a Matra MS120 C from 1971, entered by "John of B" and Nicolas Matile.

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Masters Historic Sports Cars

While the Historic French GP focused on the great hours of single-seater motor racing as a priority, the world of Sport-Prototypes was no less forgotten.

The Historic Sports Cars brought together some formidable prototypes from the early 1970s for a one hour race, Lola T70, T212, T290 and other Chevron B19 and B21 in particular.

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Trophée F3 & FRenault Classic

Gathered on the same field, the Formula 3 (from the 70s / 80s) and Formula Renault (until the 1994 vintage) single-seaters formed an extremely extensive starting grid, nearly fifty units strong.

The battle promised to be royal and it was.

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MAXX Formula : F1 90's & 2000's

Old Formula 1, it was also found at the start of the two races of the aptly named MAXX Formula series.

The announcement included a 1993 Yamaha V10 Tyrrell, a 2006 Super Aguri equipped with a Cosworth V10 and even more recent Williams (2011) and Toro Rosso (2013) powered by the current V8.

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In an almost modern atmosphere, these F1 cars were accompanied on the track by other high-level single-seaters, including several GP2s, Indy Cars, Superleague Formula, WS Nissan, etc.

All this for the happiness of the eyes ... and the ears!

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Trophée Lotus

The 5.8 km of the Paul Ricard circuit was not too much to accommodate the imposing Lotus Trophy peloton. It was more or less 60 Lotus Seven (or old caterham) which took possession of it, a real record!

This naturally foreshadowed formidable battles on the track.

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Formula Ford 1600

With 50 single-seaters on this grid dedicated to Formula Ford's with Kent engines from the 1967/1992 period, the battle for the Historic French GP was just promising to be magnificent!

Another figure that refers to another era of motor racing no less than 15 manufacturers were represented on the starting grid.

On the driver’s side, there was no shortage of Formula Ford experts. The grid also accommodated some F3 1000 cm3 from the period 1964/1970.

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Gentlemen Drivers

The only 80-minute race on the Gentlemen Drivers field was not lacking in spice as well.

Open to GTs before 1966, it brought together the must of its kind with a lot of Cobra Daytona, Jaguar E type, Shelby Mustang, Austin Healey 3000.

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Masters Endurance Legends

Looking to a more recent past, L'Endurance Legends brought together endurance cars from the 2000s.

And not just any!

The entry list included in particular the Peugeot 90X from 2011 (in the hands of the Englishman Kriton Lendoutis), a Lotus LMP2 from 2012 (with Marco Werner at the controls), the Lola Aston Martin DBR1 from 2009, driven by the Belgian Christophe D'Ansembourg, or even an almost contemporary BR 01 from 2015.

All complemented by multiple Courage, Riley & Scott, Saleen, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Mosler.

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Historic F2

Now resuscitated in a whole new form, the F2 was already an almost obligatory passage to F1 in the 1960s to 1980s.

More precisely, the two weekend races brought together single-seaters, with a 1600 or 2-liter engine, which stood out during the heyday of the European Championship, between 1967 and 1978.

The March had the advantage of numbers, notably led by the Italian Manfredo Rossi, the Swiss Alain Girardet, the French Robert Simac, Fabrice Lheritier and Laurent Vallery-Masson, the German Wolfgang Kaufmann, the Belgian Marc Devis, the English Mark Hazell, etc European F2 champion in 1973, Jean-Pierre Jarier was waiting for the best of them on the podium. After the two races of the week-end.

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HGPCA F1 pré 61 & 66

It is impossible to talk about the history of the F1 Grand Prix without revisiting those that animated them in the 1950s and during the first half of the following decade.

Mixing single-seaters with front engine (the "pre 61") and rear (the "pre 66"), the British field of the HGPCA put small marvels back in the race, such as the three copies of the legendary Maserati 250F, world champion 1957 in the hands of Fangio. The German Klaus Lehr, the Spaniard Guillermo Fierro and the English Steve Hart are the lucky drivers today.

We could also follow the many Cooper entered, in particular the T51 and T53 world champions 1959/1960, as well as the multiple Lotus of the sixties with a 1500 cm3 engine, in particular the 18, 21 or 24.

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Lurani Trophy Formula Juniors

If the period of activity of Formula Junior, from 1958 to 1963, was relatively short, its history is no less glorious and still today subject to the organization of races and championships at the international level.

This was the case with the renowned Lurani Trophy to which the double race of the weekend refers. The thirty or so single-seaters entered, mostly powered by an 1100cc, gave a good overview of the variety and vitality of the racing car manufacturers of the time.

Lotus was particularly well represented with more than ten of its famous 20 and 22 models.

As for the drivers, a single number sums up the universal scope of the category, nearly a dozen nationalities were gathered on the starting grid, the most courageous coming from the United States and Argentina.

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Based on GPFH press report

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