The Circuit Paul Ricard was opened in 1970. It is located near the French village Le Castellet in the Département Var, about 20 kilometres away from Bandol near the Côte d’Azur. The racetrack, combined with the nearby Aéroport International du Castellet, forms a complex unit and is also known as Le Castellet. Since 2001 the official name of the circuit is Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track (Paul Ricard HTTT).
The Circuit Paul Ricard was planned with the help of the racing drivers Henri Pescarolo and Jean-Pierre Beltoise and built in just ten months. In its original form the track impressed with its exceptionally long Mistral-Straight (about 1.6 km).
After a change of ownership about 1200 people were involved in remodelling the circuit. As a Test Track it can be configured in 180 different variations to test various conditions. The length of the circuit can vary between 6.105 km and 826 m and there are a total of 15 right turns and ten left turns available.
The new operators of the Circuit Paul Ricard built 25 hectares of runoff zones which were planned by the German architect Hermann Tilke. By adding tungsten to the upper layer these zones have significantly higher grip than the regular racetrack. This allows formula 1 cars to decelerate safely without damaging the car or injuring the driver.