Alpine F1 driver Esteban Ocon is adamant in his belief that there should be a French Grand Prix on the calendar, and he has vowed to do everything within his power to help keep it in the sport.
There have been 61 championship grand prix in France, spanning venues such as Reims, Rouen, Dijon, Le Mans, Paul Ricard and Magny Cours to name a few.
It has been won seven times by French drivers between Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Alain Prost and Rene Arnoux, but it faces extinction once again due to Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali’s ambitious plan expand into new markets.
“I think there is potential to go to 24. I would say there is potential to go to 30, in terms of the interest we see all around the world,” he said.
“It is up to us to try to find the right balance, considering the venues which would like to be in F1, [and] the historical values we need to see on the calendar.”
F1 will have three races in the United States next year when Vegas joins Miami and Austin in hosting a race.
There appears to be keen interest in revisiting South Africa and China and, consequently, a renewal of the French Grand Prix contract – which expires this year – appears unlikely.
Ocon is broad-minded when it comes to catering for a multitude of audiences, but he does not want to lose the French Grand Prix in the beautiful town of Le Castellet.
“I am very happy to discover new circuits,” the Frenchman said.
“I will do everything I can to try to keep the French GP on the calendar. It’s very special for us to go there every year.”
Compatriot and AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly also spoke in defence of the race at Paul Ricard, affirming that he desperately wants to keep his home race alive.
“As a Frenchman, I will always support the Grand Prix de France,” he said.
“The motivation, the energy, the atmosphere, it is something that you can only feel in [your] native country.”
Other key races also appear to be at risk of falling off the calendar in 2023, with the contracts to race in Austria, Belgium, Monaco and Mexico all set to expire the end of the current Formula 1season.