The Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, France has hosted Formula 1 since the early 70s and is known as one of the first modern autodromes. Its wide mix of high, medium and low-speed turns, as well as the wide, high grip asphalt runoff zones, has made the circuit a popular testing circuit. Whilst the extended run-offs mean the track can be very forgiving, it does not mean that it is easy to master.
Sector 2 is made up mostly of the famous Mistral Straight, with a tricky acceleration zone and a heavy braking zone to spice it up. The maze that is the Chicane complex was inserted to split the straight into two and create a heavy braking zone, a popular overtaking spot.
Turn 6 (Virage de la Ste Baume)
Turn 6 of Virage de la Ste Baume follows soon after T5 and often you will still be fighting for traction. Be progressive on the throttle so get the power down but avoid losing the rear.
Aim to take a later apex to maximise the speed through T7 and onto the long Mistral Straight, short-shifting to null the power a bit and use all of the track available if you need to.
Turn 7 (Ligne Droite du Mistral)
Turn 7 of Ligne Droite du Mistral is easily taken flat out and is all about taking the smoothest possible route onto the Mistral Straight.
Avoid using too much steering lock so you don't scrub speed. Taking the flat kerb can help with this as it shortens the route, providing it does not scrub off too much speed.
Turn 8 (Chicane)
Today the long Mistral Straight is broken up by the Chicane complex of T8 and T9 and this creates the heaviest braking zone on the track. As many of you will know, there are many different track layouts here so spotting the right one can be tricky at first.
Once you have understood the maze of corners and know where you should be going we need a good braking point reference. Move all the way over to the right side of the straight and straddle the kerbs. Hit the brakes hard just after the 100m board.
Downshift to 4th gear for the apex of T8 trying to pick up the edge of the sausage kerb as the clipping point. Leave some exit speed on the table to help benefit the run out of T9.
Turn 9 (Chicane Nord): Apex
Chicane Nord or Turn 9 is the right-hander that takes you back towards the Mistral. As the name suggests, it is on the North side of the circuit.
On the transition between T8 and T9 use a downshift to 3rd gear to rotate the car and make a late apex.
You can use the kerb to also help rotate the car but avoid using the sausage kerbs as these will unsettle the car and kill traction and exit speed back onto the straight. If you find yourself on the sausage kerbs you are probably exceeding track limits too.
Turn 9: Exit
On the exit of T9 you can make use of the full width of the track but again, you should not find yourself getting as far as the sausage kerbs if you want to carry good momentum towards the famous Signes corner.
Short shifting in the acceleration phase can also help to maximise the traction and speed out.