For as long as we remember, and against all odds, the Grand Prix de Pau has shown its ambition to stand present alongside the bigger players. And the big names in car-racing, are not mistaken !
For them, this demanding track has always been a validation of their talent which is sometimes just budding or could be already confirmed.
Today again sees an unmissable meeting looking to the future for the champions and engines of tomorrow.
Pau has an automobile history that few towns can rival.
The Grand Prix de Pau, the first of its name from 1900, is one of the pillars in the history of motor-racing. And almost every era has seen its glories.
Examples from the past include Etancelin, Nuvolari, Wimille, Fangio, Ascari, Trintignant, Brabahm, Cevert, Clark, Hill… Yesterday, Laffitte, Jabouille, Arnoux, Pironi…and more recently it’s Jean Alesi, Pedro Lamy, Juan Pablo Montoya, Romain Grosjean or even Lewis Hamilton and lately Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon received the applause of Pau’s streets. Every one of them has passed through the finishing line, practically all winners at the wheel of the biggest names in car manufacturing or of the most legendary single-seaters.
The Grand Prix de Pau, an inter-generation race where emerging talent meets the more experienced names in motor sports.
Often compared to the Monaco race track for its technical qualities and the speed required, the Bearnais competition has revealed numerous champions. The circuit includes a tight hairpin bend (l’Epingle du lycée), straights (start and finishing straights, the mount towards the Oscar Bridge) and other courageous sections (Beaumont Park and the Foch bend).
Transformed into a town circuit for the first time in 1933 and existing as the only circuit in a French town, this competition is one of 5 world challenges which still exists in its original form. Its town track, 2 760 km long, benefits from an exceptional panorama view over the Pyrenees mountain range.
Apart from the widening of the Avenue Gaston Lacoste straight, in 1957, the Grand Prix track is identical to that driven by the competitors from 1935 onwards.
Since 1964, the Grand Prix has been registered in the calendar of the French Formula 2 Championships. Then the international Formula 3000 took over from 1958 to 1999, followed by the European Formula 3.
In 2001, Pau welcomed its first Grand Prix Historic. Initially programmed every two years, the meeting has taken on an annual rhythm since 2011.
Between 2007 and 2009, Pau hosted the WTCC (World Touring Car Cup), for its French heat, before its reform in 2010.
2011 marked the return of the Grand Prix, headed by the single-seater formula and the 1st ever electric Grand Prix on tarmac.
In 2014, the return of the European Championships of F3 FIA drew attention. Since then , under the aegis of the ASAC Basco Béarnais, and helped by « Créa-Sud Communication », the presence of the F3 acts as the backbone to a programme which mixes single-seater races and line ups of leading sedan cars, ressembling the events of the « FFSA GT Championship of France ».
Winning in Pau reveals all of a driver’s talent.
A victory on the track, which doesn’t excuse the slightest deviation, is never a game of chance. Extremely technical, narrow with rapid sections without escape routes, the track is mostly made up of blind bends. Such characteristics require driving skills of extraordinary quality. The slightest error is here penalised by a crash with the security railings, generally synonymous of abandon.