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The Paul Ricard circuit, photo by Baptiste Vialatte

With the announcement that funding is in place the 2013 French Grand Prix is almost certain to go ahead and as previously reported should share a slot in the calendar with Belgium so that the races happen in alternate years.

 

The decision for a return of the French Grand Prix may be popular but the reduction of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa to bi-annual is not going down well with fans, at the same time some are philosophical considering that with no contract beyond 2013 this may be the best way of ensuring the Belgian Grand Prix’s future.

 

French sports minister David Douillet has confirmed that France is ready to host a Grand Prix, it is agreed in principle with Bernie Ecclestone and funding is in place including government backing, the French Prime Minister Francois Fillon having been behind the project to bring the race back.

 

The French race is set to take place at La Castellet on the Paul Ricard circuit that most teams know well from testing; it is assumed that the race will be on the same end of August, start of September slot as the Belgian Grand Prix is now and has been for many years. An important fact to consider is also that the Paul Ricard circuit is owned by none other than Bernie Ecclestone, he surely then can’t be averse to his circuit hosting what many see as his sport.

 

The Belgian Grand Prix is in fact all that is holding up the deal, they have to agree to the plan to share a race and will need to sign a new long term contract. Sources have suggested that the Belgian Grand Prix organisers do welcome the shared race as a way to bring down the costs of hosting a Grand Prix themselves.  Organiser of the Belgian grand prix Etienne Davignon said in August last year that:“We have a contract until 2013, and we feel that there is a strong tendency at present for an alternation (in future)”, perhaps suggesting that France may be forced to wait until 2014 if Spa-Franchorchamps want to honour their 2013 contract.

 

Should the deal not go through with Spa though there may be alternatives with Valencia and Barcelona both looking at cutting the costs of hosting Grand Prix. Valencia may want to cancel the race on the Valencia Street circuit altogether but it seems Barcelona are ready to renogotiate and the Spanish city is in fact much closer to La Castallet (near Marsaille) than Spa is making the fit more logical as fans in the area will still be able to travel to one race or the other; it might be less likely that regulars at the Belgian Grand Prix would go to La Castallet with Hockenheim,, The Nurburgring and even Silverstone being closer.