French Grand Prix: Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours

Track at Magny-Cours
Track at Magny-Cours (JPC24M /

The Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, simply known as Magny-Cours, is situated in central France, roughly about 160 miles or so from Paris, so is well located for racing across the country. The circuit was the representative for the French Grand Prix for many years throughout the eighties and through to the mid 2000s. 

Whilst a popular track with the drivers, it’s also been one that’s been quite controversial with the head bosses in Formula 1, mainly because of a lack of facilities and a lack of ability to host a large number of fans and crowds for the race. A move to Paris had always been on the cards as a result. 


Swap Start/End

Circuit Info

Location Length Corners Capacity Year Opened
Magny-Cours 4.412km 17 139,112 1960

Circuit Layout

Views of the Magny-Cours Track
Views of the Magny-Cours Track (JPC24M /

One of the key aspects of the track is that spectators aren’t able to get to many parts of it. This means that when driving it can have an almost decedent feel to the race and offers the drivers a little bit of tranquillity, which is rare for modern racetracks. 

One of the unique features of the tracks is that it’s been modelled on several other tracks, trying to take the best from those circuits and include them into the design of Magny-Cours. A few of the standout ‘copied’ corners are that of turn 3 which is known as the Estoril corner, turn 5 which is the same as the Adelaide hairpin and the chicanes at both Imola and Nürburgring at 7 and 12 are both apparent. 

The circuit is one of the better balanced that have been in Formula 1, with a good mix of long straights and tight turns. The chicane at turn 5 (Adelaide corner) is probably the best opportunity for overtaking due to the fact cars come flying in at almost 200mph and then have to break hard down to around 50mph or even less. 

However, the problems that have occurred with the circuit is that there are actually quite few overtaking opportunities throughout the race. Whilst the balance of the track is good, the layout means that actually getting enough speed or breaking hard enough to go past another car, has become very tough. Back in the late 80’s to early 90’s the opposite was in fact true, but the reality is that the Magny-Cours circuit has failed to stand the test of time with modern cards and as such, has been the main reason why formula 1 is no longer a part of the track. 

Other Races at Magny-Cours

Racing Sidecars at Magny-Cours
Racing Sidecars at Magny-Cours (JPC24M /

Unfortunately for the racetrack, the lack of Formula 1 racing has seen quite a large decline in total racing at the track. It’s still very much maintained to a good standing though and the like so the World Super Bike Championship and the GT3. 

Other races that have taken place at the circuit include the GP2, Super League Formula Round, GP@ Series Round, FIA GT, MotoGP, Superbike World Championship and the World Touring Car Championship Race of France. 


The Track Features High Speed Chicanes
The Track Features Many High Speed Chicanes (cobber_cpd /

Built in 1960 by Jean Berniguad, the track has been one of the highlights of French Motorsport for over 50 years. The first claim to fame for Magny-Cours was that of hosting the Winfield racing school, creating some of the best French drivers of all time, including the likes of Francois Cevert, Jacques Laffite and Didier Pironi. Issues with funding for the track came about in the 1980s and eventually stopped serving as a motor racing track as a result. That was until it was purchased by that of Reginal Conseil de la Nivere. 

Redesign of the Track

In the 1990s, the Ligier team did a lot of testing for their Formula 1 car at the circuit, which was widely believed to put Magny-Cours on the map, and as a result, they were able to host their first Grand Prix in 1991. The circuit remained relatively untouched until a redesign in 2003. Little did the track know that this would be a last chance saloon for them to create a bit of excitement at the track due to the lack of overtaking and mundane races that it had followed. 

Grand Prix at Magny-Cours

Ultimately, by 2008, their fate had been sealed and this was the last year that they were to hold a French Grand Prix. Since then, there have been murmurs of a return to the track in 2009 and 2010, but funding has since moved on and no French Grand Prix has been run since.