Although we reported in mid 2011 that a task group had been put together by the French Prime Minister to look into resurecting the French Grand Prix their progress was largely unknown until now. Le Figaro in France have reported that the French Grand Prix will now almost certainly return in 2013 and alternate with the Belgian Grand Prix. The race’s return has been announced by the French Federation of Motor Sport and the date given as the 1st of Septmeber 2013 and the place the Paul Ricard circuit, a popular test track for F1 in the south of France; despite this announcement it seems that although agreed in principal contracts still need to be signed, the budget is in place though, a total of $30 million with $20 million to be paid in Fees to the Formula One Group.
Though fans will miss the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa the French Grand Prix has the longest history of any and the world’s first formally organised car race took place in the country. The return of the French race it seems has been helped by Economic impact studies that have convinced local authorities that it is worth them providing $10 million towards the budget, the rest being made up by Private investment with the Grand Prix expected to make $20 million back in sales. Renault are also said to be interested in partnering with the Grand Prix and it is hoped that the Grand Prix could be a boost for France’s, not unsubstantial, automotive industry.
Whether long term the race will remain at Paul Ricard remains to be seen however; the track is at La Castellet near Marseille, close to Monaco and not that far from Monza or Barcelona making this a competitive area to attract F1 Fans in. A race in or near Paris previously looked more likely and may be what is planned long term if the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard is enough of a success to get investors interested in building a new track, or perhaps even bringing the Le Mans shorter Bugatti circuit up to Formula One standards.