Welcome to Who? What? Where? When? Why? on the World Wide Web. Your comments, criticism and suggestions: editors#8w.forix.com (replace # with @).
8W is forix.autosport.com's motorsport history section and covers the drivers, cars, circuits, eras and technology that shaped the face, sounds and smells of motor racing.

2024 Grand Prix de France Historique report
Celebrating a glorious French past


Related articles


Nicolas Matile


March-Cosworth 771


Paul Ricard


2024 Grand Prix de France Historique (April 19, 2024)

Nicolas Matile, March 771, 2024 Grand Prix de France Historique

Mike Cantillon (Williams FW07C) and Oliver Webb (Hesketh 308) became the first winners of the 2024 historic F1 season, as the Irishman and Briton each grabbed a victory at Paul Ricard, all under the watchful eye of a star-studded roll of honour that included Alain Prost, Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi. In all, some 35,000 spectators gathered at an event that carried the same festive vibe as the Historic Grand Prix at Zandvoort.

Masters Historic Racing returned to the previously biennial GP de France Historique after its previous presence at Magny-Cours in 2017 and 2019 and at Paul Ricard in 2021. At its new home venue, the French Historic Grand Prix switched to being an annual event, first having BOSS GP over as their Formula 1 headliner in 2022, with French organiser HVM staging its own invitational F1 race in 2023, but this time HVM chief Laurent Vallery-Masson managed to win over Masters again to allow Paul Ricard to be the first round of the 2024 Masters Racing Legends series, the new name for the former FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship.

Marco Fumagalli, Theodore TR1, 2024 Grand Prix de France Historique

Marco Fumagalli's Theodore TR1 waiting for its spot in the garages. (photo 8W)

Beforehand, expectations weren’t running high. The middle of May sees the GP de Monaco Historique, for which usually everything has to give way. In recent years, F1 participants invariably saved their cars for this crown jewel on the historic calendar, often leaving Masters with great difficulty in getting a full entrylist anywhere in the run-up to Monaco. But to everyone’s great surprise Paul Ricard attracted no less than 40 entries this year – an actual world record! This time, in fact, everyone had chosen Paul Ricard as its shakedown base for Monaco, which perhaps was logical after all, as crashing on this circuit with its huge run-off areas can almost only be done into each other.

With some 40 cars there were plenty of opportunity of just that, but no-one blinked as they would not be deprived of being part of such a historically large F1 field. Due to setbacks in practice, qualifying and the first race, eventually 38 and 36 cars respectively ended up taking part in both races, but even those were still records.

Alain Prost, McLaren M29B, 2024 Grand Prix de France Historique

Alain Prost demonstrated the cumbersome McLaren M29B in which he took a point
on his Formula One debut back in 1980. (photo 8W)

Mike Cantillon proved fastest in qualifying and from pole he drove to a convincing victory on Saturday. Behind him, an entertaining duel ensued between Werner d'Ansembourg (Brabham BT49) and reigning champion Ken Tyrrell (Tyrrell 011), eventually decided in the Belgian’s favour. His father Christophe (also on a Williams FW07C) battled with Martin Stretton (Tyrrell 012), a fight for fourth that was only decided when Stretton's Tyrrell started to falter on the last lap.

Pro driver Oliver Webb eventually finished seventh, but Oli was the dominant winner of the pre-78 class. In the Hesketh 308 owned by new Masters co-owner Fred Fatien, Webb ran second overall at first, only to lose places to the drivers in more recent cars. Afterwards, Webb rued not having outsmarted Cantillon on the opening lap while he still had the opportunity, but you can’t have everything in life, he said philosophically.

Jamie Constable, Tyrrell 011, 2024 Grand Prix de France Historique

Jamie Constable chose to race his 1983-spec Tyrrell 011 above the 1982 car that he also owns. (photo 8W)

The Brit making his living as a GT driver in GT Open, among others, wouldn’t have said that if he had had the ability to look into the future. In the second race with a reversed for Saturday’s first 11 finishers, Soheil Ayari (Ligier JS21) initially seized the initiative, as the Frenchman was allowed to start from the front row to grab the lead from polesitter Valerio Leone’s Arrows at the second corner, with Webb soon following Ayari through. The 1996 French F3 champion, who entered the historic F1 championship late last year, had experienced a dramatic Friday, as his gearbox broke down twice, forcing him to start from the very last position. After a monumental comeback race on Saturday, he finished tenth, which entitled him to a place on the front row of the grid the next day. Soon, however, his Ligier proved to lack some essential, leaving the Frenchman to eventually drop down to seventh place.

This handed Webb the lead in his pre-78 machine, a feat we had not witnessed since four-time champion Nick Padmore (not present this time) achieved this at Hockenheim last year. However, Oli’s dream seemed to be over when Cantillon re-emerged from 11th on the grid, but the Irishman misjudged a backmarker pass shortly afterwards. This gave Webb a second opportunity to lead and this time he held on to it to the chequered flag. In a messy race, Werner d'Ansembourg and 2022 champion Steve Hartley (McLaren MP4/1) failed to make it to the end after the pair clashed, so the remaining podium places went to Stretton and Christophe d'Ansembourg.

Martin Stretton, Tyrrell 012, 2024 Grand Prix de France Historique

Martin Stretton took a safe second to bring home the post-82 class win in the Tyrrell 012 now owned by Simon Winner. (photo 8W)

In the Masters Endurance Legends for recent Le Mans prototypes and GTs, Steve Brooks (Peugeot 90X) won twice in a row, but he needed to work for both wins. On Saturday, Brooks battled Christophe d'Ansembourg (Lola-Aston Martin DBR1-2) for a long time, only to be served the win on a plate when Kriton Lendoudis (Peugeot 908) had to retire with a hydraulics issue. The next day, the frustrated Greek put the hammer down and managed to catch up with leader Brooks after a mighty comeback race from the back of the grid, but Brooks wouldn’t allow him the opportunity of a dream result, as the Briton fought back to recapture the lead and beat Lendoudis by the narrowest of margins.

In the LMP2 class, both wins went to Michael Birch (Ligier JSP2-17), who proved too quick for French duo Patrice Lafargue and Ligier boss Jacques Nicolet – both in a Ligier JSP2-14 run by Lafargue’s ELMS team Idec Sport). After years, a Ligier JSP3 failed to win the LMP3 class, as youngsters Jack Fabby and Alfie Briggs – the latter a 16-year-old karter – ran away with the spoils in their Duqueine D08, the design that began life as a Norma. The GT wins did stay in France and were shared between father and son Harry & William Teneketzian (Renault RS01) and Olivier Morihain (Corvette C7.R).

Steve Tandy, Lola-Judd B12/60, Keith Frieser, Zytek 09S, Xavier Micheron, Riley & Scott-Elan MkIIIC, 2024 Grand Prix de France Historique

Steve Tandy's Lola-Judd B12/60, Keith Frieser's Zytek 09S and Xavier Micheron's Riley & Scott-Elan MkIIIC all waiting for their turn in the sun. (photo 8W)

More single-seater action was a given at an event that honoured the French GP’s past. In the 90s Time Attack organised by former F1 team (now a racing school) AGS, Dutchman Klaas Zwart completed a lap of Paul Ricard several seconds faster than what any Masters competitor had managed, but with his Jaguar R5 he had the material to do so. Zwart's strongest opponent turned out to be former FIA F3 driver Dorian Boccolacci, who had to make do with a Dallara-Renault T05 from the World Series by Renault era. Several older F1 cars drove demo laps, such as Ayrton Senna’s McLaren-Honda MP4/7 for which Gerhard Berger was invited, and the McLaren M29B in which Alain Prost had made his F1 debut. The four-time World Champion was a guest of honour and took to the track himself.

Paul Ricard also saw the premiere of the F2 and F3 Interseries, a pair of mergers between the British and continental championships organised by the HSCC and HVM respectively. Both series were faced with declining fields in recent years, so the British and French wisely decided to create a single European calendar together. Still, the turnout proved to be somewhat disappointing, especially from Britain, as in F2, 12 cars turned up in total, the minority of which was British. In comparison, the F3 field was copiously filled, but out of 23 cars just one came travelled the Channel.

Wolfgang Kaufmann, March 782, 2024 Grand Prix de France Historique

Wolfgang Kaufmann's March 782 proved untouchable in both F2 races. (photo 8W)

Wolfgang Kaufmann (March 782) won both F2 races fairly easily, with some opposition from Manfredo Rossi (March 762). Event organiser Vallery-Masson himself finished third on Saturday in his Atlantic-spec March 77B but dropped out on Sunday. This allowed March 782-equipped Belgian Matthias Devis – son of historic mainstay Marc Devis – to grab a podium on his F2 debut. Both F3 races turned into close fights between Frédéric Rouvier (Chevron B38) and Davide Leone (March 783), with Rouvier winning on Saturday and Leone turning the tables on Sunday. Both days, Manfredo Rossi (Martini MK34) finished a distant third.

On Saturday evening, the programme concluded with a long-distance race for prototypes and GTs from the 1970s to 2000s. After 200 km of racing into the sunset, victory went to a trio of familiar names – Jean Alesi, Jean-Pierre Richelmi and Philippe Gache drove home the win in their Porsche 934 Turbo.

The full event gallery