Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours is a motor racing circuit located in central France, near the towns of Magny-Cours and Nevers, some 250 km (160 miles) from Paris. It staged the Formula One French Grand Prix from 1991 to 2008, and the 24-hour Bol d'Or motorcycle endurance events since 2000.
Usually dubbed Magny-Cours, it was built in 1960 by Jean Bernigaud and was home to the prestigious L'Ecole de Pilotage Winfield racing school, which produced drivers such as François Cevert and Jacques Laffite. However, in the 1980s the track fell into disrepair and was not used for international motor racing until it was purchased by the Regional Conseil de la Nièvre.
In the 1990s the Ligier (and, after Ligier was bought, Prost) Formula One team was based at the circuit and did much of its testing at Magny-Cours. It had hosted the French Formula One Grand Prix since 1991, and the Bol d'Or since 2000. The circuit was re-designed in 2003 and used for a wide range of events include various sports and commercial use.
The circuit features several high-speed chicanes with prominent kerbs, such as the Imola chicane. (Mark Webber pictured driving for WilliamsF1.)
For the 2003 event, the final corner and chicane were changed in an effort to increase overtaking, with little effect. This did, however, change the approach to strategy at this circuit as it made the pitlane much shorter. Because less time was lost making a pit stop, Michael Schumacher was able to win the 2004 French Grand Prix using an unprecedented four-stop strategy.
In 2006, Michael Schumacher became the first driver ever to win any single Formula One Grand Prix a total of 8 times and at the same circuit.
The 2007 race was to mark the last French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, as the French Grand Prix had been indefinitely suspended from the Formula One calendar.
Bernie Ecclestone originally confirmed that F1 would not return to Magny-Cours in 2008, instead moving to an alternative location possibly in Paris. However in a striking U-turn, it was revealed that the 2008 French Grand Prix would take place at Magny-Cours with the release of the official calendar on July 2007.
In May 2008, Ecclestone confirmed that Magny-Cours would stop hosting the French Grand Prix after the 2008 race, suggesting that he was looking into the possibility of hosting the French Grand Prix on the streets of Paris.
In June 2008, the provisional calendar for the 2009 season was released, and a French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours appeared on it, scheduled for 28 June. However, in October 2008 the 2009 French Grand Prix was cancelled after the French Motorsports Federation (FFSA) withdrew financing for the event.
In 2009 the track hosted its first Superleague Formula event. It also hosted a second event in 2010.
The track nowadays is a smooth circuit with good facilities for the teams, although restricted access prevents spectators from reaching many parts of the circuit. Unusually, many corners are modelled on famous turns from other circuits, and are named after those circuits, e.g. the fast Estoril corner and the Adelaide hairpin. It has a mix of slow hairpins and high-speed chicane sections which includes a long fast straight into the first-gear Adelaide hairpin, the best overtaking opportunity on the circuit. The circuit is very flat with negligible change in elevation (only a small valley at the Estoril corner and a slight hill near the Lycee corner).
The circuit provides few overtaking opportunities, despite modifications in 2003, which means the races here are commonly regarded as quite uneventful. Formula 1 races at Magny-Cours tend to have a processional nature, with most overtaking occurring during pit stop sequences. More varied racing occurs when it rains, such as in the 1999 race, which was interrupted by a downpour. After a restart, most top contenders developed problems, which paved the way for Heinz-Harald Frentzen to claim a surprising victory in his Jordan.
Although the Bol d'Or 24-hour motorcycle endurance race was held at Magny Cours for several years, it never quite matched the cachet of the Le Mans event; and now the Bol D'Or has returned to the more popular Bugatti circuit at Le Mans, (the capital of the Sarthe department). Källa: Wikipedia.