Paul Ricard considering major track changes for 2020 French GP

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Circuit Paul Ricard could be set for a major makeover for 2020 following frustration at the lack of racing in this year's French Grand Prix.

Since returning in 2018 Mercedes has dominated both races with Lewis Hamilton winning while much of the racing has been limited to DRS moves into the Mistral Chicane.

In an effort to address that, race advisor and former McLaren and Renault chief Eric Boullier revealed proposals have been put forward to overhaul the circuit design.

“I asked what do we need to do? They came back to me with a completely new track layout which was not Paul Ricard at all,” he said in Abu Dhabi last week.

“It was a new track so a different story! But that was part of the purpose of my request, to find out what could be done.

“So I’m now in the process of coming back to them and saying which ideas are good and I agree with. We are working on it and we will see what can be done.”

Boullier though wasn't in favour of completely erasing the current layout, but did earmark one area in particular for a new design.

“Based on the results I’ve seen from FOM, this [first part of track] is going to be my suggestion. So not to redesign everything,” he confirmed.

“We will keep the chicane [on the Mistral Straight], and we will keep Signes and Beausset because they are signature corners.

“But maybe we can change from Turn 1 to Turn 4 to make it, let’s say, faster, with big braking and then having two big straight lines that should cause a team to run less downforce."

Boullier though did explain that racing wasn't the only consideration French GP organisers had to consider and that's why one often touted suggestion can't happen.

“Everybody says take out this chicane [on the Mistral] and have a straight line and it’s going to solve your problem, he said.

“Yes, but it’s creating more problems for me because I’ve got 10,000 grandstand seats there and obviously the main revenue stream of a Grand Prix promoter is ticketing.

“So where am I going to put these 10,000 people in the grandstand? Plus, also, all the overtaking manoeuvres happened there.

“We can change a little bit the configuration where it makes the braking harder and it gives another 20 metres longer for the second part where, if we have a third DRS zone, we could see maybe some more overtaking.”

All of this though still remains in the hypothetical stage because, while making the changes would largely mean simply repainting the many lines at Paul Ricard...

"We have to take the decision and work out who is going to pay for this,” Boullier concluded.

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