Esteban Ocon has said it is ‘not normal’ that we do not have a French GP on the F1 calendar this season.
The French Grand Prix, as an event, is one of the most famous and oldest in motorsport and was once a regular fixture on the schedule.
However, in recent years, it has dipped in and out of the fixture list and, after the 2022 race at Paul Ricard, we’re now back to a position where there is no race in France on the agenda.
There’s potential for that to change, of course, with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali quite clearly leaving the door open in recent weeks for the race to return:
“The day President [Emmanuel] Macron tells me he wants to talk about the return of France, I will come,” Domenicali said to L’Equipe. “If he wants to talk, I will be there as soon as he wants to talk.”
Domenicali stressed the need for France to put together a clear roadmap that paves the way for the race to return, though, and French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera appears to be taking up the challenge with her telling Eco:
“I think it’s positive that the boss of Formula 1 has recently expressed such a desire for France.
“Therefore, we will work on a roadmap.”
Positive words for Ocon, then, who obviously hails from the country.
Asked by GIVEMESPORT ahead of the Monaco GP about the lack of French GP on the calendar, he said:
“It’s not normal that we don’t have a French Grand Prix at the moment. That should be part of the calendar. I hope we will find the solution together to be able to bring it back – there are some talks going on so let’s see what that brings.”
That in mind, GMS also asked Ocon whether Monaco, given its very close proximity to France, felt as close to a home race as possible for him this year:
“Yeah, a little bit definitely,” he said.
“I mean, I really, really enjoy coming here every year. Obviously Monaco is very close to France, a lot of people here speak French and it has a very high French community here. French fans are coming here to support us and it’s great to see.
“In Paul Ricard recently at the wet tyre Pirelli test fans came as well. There’s been so many supporters coming in the grandstands for private tests – I’ve never seen it before where the grandstands were full. I was just blown away by the support I got – it’s just awesome.
“It is definitely great to see at the moment that there are a lot of French flags everywhere and people are coming to support us.”
Clearly, there’s a strong appetite for F1 in France, so perhaps it won’t be too long before the nation hosts another F1 race.