What Everyone Ought To Know About Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours
Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours once was not only one of the best racing tracks in France but also one of the top motorsport venues in the world.
Located in the central France, in the region of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comte region, some 250 km from Paris, this circuit in its golden years attracted many major racing events, including the Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix. Magny-Cours, how this track is commonly called, over the years lost most of its prestige but still stands as a good venue with a smooth surface.
Built by motorsport enthusiast
Interestingly, the initial plan never was too ambitious. The idea of circuit construction was born in 1957 by mayor Jean Bernigaud who was fond of speed and extreme sports. When the proper site was found near the town Magny-Cours, the ground was broken in 1959 and in the following year, the venue named Jean Behra after the French racing hero was constructed.
Bernigaud’s objectives were:
– The track has to be open to the practice of all motorsports: car, motorcycles, karting, and motocross
– Site always had to be always open and must propose a maximum of animations
– The track and the whole venue must have an educational vocation
All objectives were quickly met. The short karting circuit was opened first and motorsport club was formed. Soon after, the circuit became the home of the famous Winfield racing school and over the years produced many famous drivers like Francois Cevert, Jacques Laffite, and Didier Pironi. Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours expanded over the years and was constantly modernized with new facilities.
In 1971, a completely new racing track with a length of 3.85 km and with a width of 9 m was done and ready to welcome races of up to 30 cars and 40 motorcycles. The progress has continued over the years and Magny-Cours became one of the top motorsport spots in France. However, in the mid-1980s financial troubles put this amazing circuit in the shadow.
Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours – The new beginning and arrival of the F1 Grand Prix
The regional government bought Magny-Cours circuit in 1986 and that was a purely political decision. The French president Francois Mitterrand was from that part of France and he was a good friend of Guy Ligier, the owner of the Formula 1 team. New owner started a further development and in the new facilities included a thriving industrial estate for racing companies, including units for the ORECA team and factories for Martini Cars and, what was probably most important – Ligier.
In 1989, the entirely new track was finished and ready to host the Formula 1 French Grand Prix for the first time. However, the first F1 race was held two years later after the host of the race was almost abducted from the Circuit Paul Ricard. The move to Magny-Cours was an attempt to stimulate the economy of the area, so the decision was entirely guided by political and not by sports reasons. The first F1 French Grand Prix was held in July of 1991 and was won by Nigel Mansell.
Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours Grand Prix layout is 4.412 km long with 17 turns. The stands capacity is 90.000 but restricted access prevents visitors from reaching many parts of the circuit. Most of the corners at this very flat track are modeled on famous turns from other circuits and are named after them, like Estoril and Adelaide. After the last major modification in 2003, the track has a mix of slow hairpins and high-speed chicane sections with very few places suitable for overtaking, so most of the races lacked excitement and were uneventful. The Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher holds lap record time (1:15.377), set during 2004 French Grand Prix.
Magny-Cours circuit also has other two layouts. The National Circuit is 2.684 km long and has 12 turns, while the Club Circuit is 1.727 km long with 11 turns. These layouts are mainly used for minor events and club racing.
Home to many motorsport events
The Formula 1 French Grand Prix definitely was the biggest event at Magny-Cours. Total of 18 F1 races were held there. Ferrari is the most successful constructor with eight wins, while Williams won on five occasions. Michael Schumacher is the most successful drivers with eight victories at Magny-Cours, while Nigel Mansell has two wins. The last F1 French Grand Prix was held in 2008 and the race was dropped from the calendar after the French Motorsport Federation decided to stop funding. It is fair to say that Formula 1 bosses were happy about that as they never were too happy with the lack of elegance and glamour in the rural part of France.
Except for the French Grand Prix, Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours was host to many other international series like the World Touring Cars Championship (WTCC), GP2, Superbike World Championship, Superleague Formula, European Touring Cars Championship (ETCC), and Bol D’Or, as well to the various national events.
Getting to Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours
It’s not so easy task to get to this circuit. The nearest airport is in Clermont-Ferrand, almost two-hour drive to the south. The airports in Paris and Lyon are even more distant. For the private jets and small airplanes is available Nevers-Fourchambault Airport, around 30 minutes to the north of the circuit.
Probably the best solution is traveling by train from Paris or Lyon to Nevers, as there are regular lines from those cities. If you are traveling by car, access is via A77 road from the north and N7 from the south.
Address: Technopole, 58470 Magny-Cours, France
Phone: +33 3 86 21 80 00