French Grand Prix

The French Grand Prix (1906-1967: Grand Prix de l'ACF, 1968-2008: Grand Prix de France) is a race held as part of Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's annual Formula One automobile racing championships. The last race was held in 2008.

Grand Prix motor racing originated in France and the French Grand Prix, open to international competition, is the oldest Grand Prix race, first run on 26 June 1906 under the auspices of the Automobile Club de France in Sarthe, with a starting field of 32 automobiles.

The first World Championships were organized in 1925 with the French Grand Prix, the Italian Grand Prix, the Belgian Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. The French Grand Prix was part of the Formula One championships from their inception in 1950 until 2008. It was designated the European Grand Prix four times between 1924 and 1966, when this title was an honorary designation given each year to one grand prix race in Europe.

The race has been held at various racetracks throughout France, such as the Autodrome de Montlhéry. Since 1991 its permanent home was the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. The move to Magny-Cours was an attempt to stimulate the economy of the area, but many within Formula One complained about the remote nature of the circuit.

The 2004 and 2005 races were in doubt because of financial problems and the addition of new circuits to the Formula One calendar. These races went ahead as planned, but it still had an uncertain future.

On 29 March 2007 it was announced by the FFSA, the race promoter, that the 2008 French Grand Prix was put on an indefinite "pause". This suspension was due to the financial situation of the circuit, known to be disliked by many in F1 due to the circuit's location. On 31 May, Bernie Ecclestone confirmed (at the time) that the 2007 French Grand Prix would be the last to be held at Magny-Cours.

However, after various negotiations, the future of the race at Magny-Cours took another turn, with increased speculation that the 2008 French Grand Prix would return, with Ecclestone himself stating "We're going to maybe resurrect it for a year, or something like that". On 24 July, Ecclestone and the French Prime Minister met and agreed to possibly maintain the race at Magny Cours for 2008 and 2009. The change in fortune was completed on 27 July, when the FIA published the 2008 calendar with a 2008 French Grand Prix scheduled at Magny-Cours once again. The 2009 race, however, was again cancelled on 15 October 2008, with the official website citing "economic reasons". A huge makeover of Magny-Cours ("2.0") was planned, but cancelled in the end. The race's promoter FFSA then started looking for an alternative host. There were five different proposals for a new circuit: in Rouen with 3 possible layouts: a street circuit, in the dock area, or a permanent circuit near the airport, a street circuit located near Disneyland Resort Paris, Versailles, and in Sarcelles (Val de France), but all were cancelled. A final location in Flins-Les Mureaux, near the Flins Renault Factory was being considered however that was cancelled as well on 1 December 2009. In 2010 and 2011, there was no French Grand Prix on the Formula 1 calendar, although the Paul Ricard Circuit has candidated itself for 2012. The French Grand Prix was not included in the released 2012 schedule, but there have been discussions about placing the event back onto the Formula 1 calendar, possibly splitting years with the Belgian Grand Prix.

10 French drivers have won the French Grand Prix; 7 before World War I and II and 3 during the Formula One championship. French driver Alain Prost won the race 6 times at 3 different circuits; however German driver Michael Schumacher has won 8 times- the most anybody has ever won any Grand Prix. Monegasque driver Louis Chiron won it 5 times, and the Argentine driver Juan Manuel Fangio and British driver Nigel Mansell both won 4 times.

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