Le Grand Prix Du Pau LIVE
It’s one of the world’s most great street races, the annual F3 Grand Prix through the narrow streets of the beautiful French village of Pau.
There’s probably not going to be a whole lot of overtaking but there’ll be plenty of action and probably lot’s of yellow flag’s but it’s always a race worth watching.
Like Macau, the race has been won by a who’s who of international motorsport including Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean and Antonio Giovinazzi.
The single-seater category’s history at Pau started in 1964, with a round of the French F3 championship taking place there from its creation in 1964 all the way through to 1973, with a one-year break in ‘72. It then returned to the calendar in 1984, and stayed there until ‘98.
Throughout this time the Grand Prix de Pau title had been awarded to Formula 2 and International Formula 3000 races, and it wasn’t until 1999 that F3 had its time in the limelight.
At the time there was no continental championship for F3 cars, with European F3 having ended in 1984, but a special European Cup event was revived to coincide with F3’s grand prix status a Pau.
It ran in this format until 2003, with it still appearing on the French F3 calendar in 2000 and ‘02, before a merger between the French and German championships led to it becoming a round of the F3 Euro Series for three years.
The final year of that tenure was dominated by a certain Lewis Hamilton, beating a field that featured fellow future F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel and Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi.
In 2006 Pau returned to being part of a national championship, making a surprise switch to become a British F3 round. It was still a French-led event though, with the cameoing Grosjean following Benoît Tréluyer (‘99), Jonathan Cochet (‘00) and Nicolas Lapierre (‘04) as local winners of the grand prix in its F3 form.
That was the end of F3 at Pau until 2011, when a new International Trophy series was created combining the Pau and Macau grand prixs, the Masters of F3 event at Zandvoort, a Euro Series and British round apiece, as well as a cancelled revival of the Korea Super Prix.
Marco Wittmann won on Pau’s F3 return, which prompted BMW to sign him up, but the famous grand prix really burst back into the public consciousness a year later when a young Raffaele Marciello took victory. The Ferrari-backed teenager looked unstoppable on his first street circuit appearance, and after a gap year for F3, the event grew in stature up to our days.
F3 legend and street circuit expert Felix Rosenqvist was the next winner, followed by current Sauber F1 driver Giovinazzi, Alessio Lorandi, Maximilian Gunther and Ralf Aron.
Reigning Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr was signed up to enter the 2016 edition before he was barred for “contravening the spirit” of the event. In total, 12 of the 20 drivers in F1 this year entered the Pau GP on their way up the single-seater ladder, including race-winners Vettel, Max Verstappen and Robert Kubica.
New Zealand driver Liam Lawson will be in action this weekend and is one of the favourites for this years event.
The commentary may be in French but that just adds to the appeal for me and it’s the ideal way to warm up to Le Mans next month.