The French Grand Prix returns after a gap of a year at the Circuit Paul Ricard, with Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton having won it the last two times.
The French GP is back in the F1 calendar after a year’s absence, with the title battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton and their teams Red Bull and Mercedes heating up. The race will be held in the Paul Ricard circuit, where the last two races were held in 2018 and 2019, both of which Hamilton won.
Who was Paul Ricard?
The simple answer to this is – the land where the French GP is held was owned by Paul Ricard. He was born in Marseille in 1909, to a family of wine merchants.
Ricard took over the business, which became renowned for the production of pastis, a French alcoholic beverage. He created the eponymous company in 1939, and headed it for three decades, before retiring in 1968.
Seven years later, Ricard merged with rival Penrod and soon became the most widely sold French alcoholic drink. Currently, Penrod Ricard is the second-largest wine and spirits seller in the world, owning brands like Absolut Vodka, Malibu, Jacob’s Creek, Chivas Regal, etc.
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Why is the French GP circuit known as Paul Ricard?
Paul Ricard also had a passion for sports and racing and considered sports marketing crucial for Ricard’s pastis. He went on to become the first commercial sponsor of the Tour de France in 1948. As part of the deliverables, the pick-up trucks used during the iconic bicycle race were adorned with the Ricard colors. The company also organized free musical concerns as the Tour went on.
In 1970 Ricard got the Circuit Paul Ricard built, a race track near the village of Le Castellet in southern France. The circuit hosted the French Grand Prix for 14 years between 1971 and 1990, before making a comeback in 2018. It is also the host of the Bol d’Or, a bicycle endurance race.