Magny-Bores? Does Formula One Need This French Circuit?

Paul HadsleyCorrespondent IJune 20, 2008

On the eve of what could be the final ever Formula One Grand Prix at the French Magny Cours circuit, I began wondering what this track has given to Formula One over the years.

The Circuit De Nevers has been the permanent home of the French Grand Prix since 1991 and has given us a lot of excitement over the years, yet, it can be argued, it has also given us plenty of processions during that time as well.

For every classic race like the wet/dry 1999 GP, where Jordan and Frentzen survived a chaotic race to score only their second ever victories, there has also been a few races where nothing at all happens and the cars come home in largely the same order that they started, barring pit stops.

However, to analyse the issue more closely, it could be argued that there is nothing wrong with the circuit at all, in fact it is the cars themselves that have outgrown the track.
The run down to the Adelaide Hairpin is one of F1's iconic images and has given us some brilliant action over the year, from new-boy Schumacher making a rookie error and running into the back of Senna (ah, what a rivalry that could've been...)to DC losing his cool in response to some robust Schumacher blocking and storming past Micheal in 2000, hand gestures and all!

Alas though, the reason it does not create that kind of excitement in modern times is because of the corner that proceeds it. The long sweeping Imola bend is a tyre killer and disturbs the aerodynamics of any car following another closely that by the time they hit the straight the cars are too far apart to think about getting a slipstream and diving down the inside.

In my opinion Magny Cours is a great track. Anyone who has ever played this course on a driving game (or indeed been lucky enough to drive round it in "real" life!) will attest that its a lot of fun to drive and other series can put on great racing here.
However Formula One will always struggle here so long as they are so dependant on their precious aerodynamics, only rain can really make the race worthwhile.


No wonder these new Tilke-dromes in far east lands are about four miles long containing three-quarter mile long straights, that's the type of track F1 needs these days to put on a good show. Poor Magny Cours seems like a go-kart track in comparison.

This weekend, the prospects look good for a reasonably average race, with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton starting down the order the odds look good for at least SOME overtaking happening in the mid-field, which is all we can ask for really.
Perhaps it'll be fitting that the last Magny Cours race is an average one with no real highlights, that way no-one will miss it when it is gone and there will be no huge outcry from the fans.

I, however, will miss it, and perhaps look forward to a day when Formula One cars become suitable for a return.


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