New Sports Minister Valérie Fourneyron, photo by Tara O

New French Sports Minister Valérie Fourneyron, photo by Tara O

The French Grand Prix is another to be put in doubt today 22nd of May with the Russian another Grand Prix that may fall victim to changes in key political roles.

 

In Russia it is a reshuffle within local government while in France it is a entire new national government but doubts over Grand Prixs in both countries have resulted.

 

In France a return of the French Grand Prix in 2013 at the Paul Ricard circuit looked almost certain with the government expected to provide loans for race staging fees and be a guarantor.

It was originally thought that contracts would be signed before the French Prseidential elections though some, including Guy Ligier, questioned this and some even suggested that the race was purely a publicity stunt for Prime Minister Francois Fillon, who has now resigned his post following the defeat of Nicholas Sarkozy.

 

The country now has a new Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron and she seems unsure about the race and a feasibility study looks likely after she said “….we have no opposition to there being a grand prix. But we need to know how much the state will have to take any shortfall on the financial side.” Not a cancellation as such then but with the French Government set to be a guarantor she will want to ensure that funding is in place and that predictions over ticket and sponsorship sales are reasonable.

 

Where the race will take place is another big question as Valerie Fourneyron has raised questions about problems with accessibility to Paul Ricard. Former French Grand Prix venue Magny Cours failed to attract enough spectators, in part due to accessibility problems, but now has a new motorway going right to the front door; Paul Ricard though does have a much larger local population so this debate may continue for some time.

 

What seems likely though is that by the time a decision is made 2013 may be a stretch for organising the race and it may be that this would also solve the problem of the French Grand Prix being likely to alternate with the Belgian Grand Prix, which does have a contract to hold a race in 2013 after which the current contract ends.