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Pau, Aquitaine

The 1901 GP de Pau was the first race on record to carry the title “Grand Prix”. In 1930, the French GP was held on a 10-mile circuit outside of the picturesque Pyrenées town, and three years later, in the February snow, a street circuit in the city centre was used for the second Grand Prix de Pau. This layout was extended north of Parc Beaumont for the 1934 race and has been used, almost uninterruptedly and unchanged, ever since.

After the Station hairpin, overlooked by a steep hill that acts as spectator bank, the road climbs to the narrow Pont Oscar. Another hairpin, almost too tight for modern racing cars, follows and leads to the challenging Parc Beaumont section. After the Monument Foch, the track winds its way to another hairpin and back to the start-line to complete the lap. Having been held as a non-championship Formula 1 or F2 race for much of its history, Pau was included on the European F2 calendar from 1972. The organisers continued with the subsequent Formula 3000 from 1985 until losing the race to Monte Carlo along the Mediterranean coast. With motor racing’s second tier increasingly seen as an F1 support category rather than headline act in its own right, Pau organisers have since promoted Formula 3 and, for three years, the World Touring Car Championship as its headline category.