French F1 driver Esteban Ocon listens during a press conference on June 27, 2017 at the automobile club in Paris to present the 2018 Formula 1 French Grand Prix, on the Paul Ricard circuit, in Le Castellet.The French Grand Prix is returning to the Formula One calendar in 2018 after a decade-long absence at Le Castellet's Paul Ricard circuit near Marseille. AFP Photo

PARIS: Force India’s French driver Esteban Ocon says the return of the French Grand Prix after a decade-long absence is “a dream come true.”

The Paul Ricard circuit near Marseille was confirmed this month as part of the 2018 Formula One season with a race on June 24.

Ocon was only 10 years old when the last F1 Grand Prix was held in France at Magny-Cours in 2008, with Felipe Massa winning in a Ferrari.

“This is really one of the best bits of news of the year for me,” the 20-year-old told a press conference on Tuesday.

“I’ve always dreamt of racing at home, it’s a dream that will come true next year.”

Ocon, still searching for his maiden podium finish in his second season in the F1 fast lane, is eager to exploit his local knowledge.

“It’s a circuit that I like, I’ve won there before. We’ll feel at home, we know the area, everyone will be supporting us, it’s an extra boost and an extra motivation.

“I’ve heard people say that you gain three tenths of a second per lap at home.”

Ocon is placed eighth in the 2017 drivers’ standings on 35 points, with France’s other F1 driver Romain Grosjean, in 14th for the Haas team.

The Paul Ricard circuit hosted 14 grand prix between 1971 and 1990, when French four-time world champion Alain Prost was victorious. --AFP

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