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France, Turkey and now Austria could fill in 2013 calender gap - December 9, 2012 by admin

,”]th 2002 Austrian Grand Prix An Austrian Grand Prix is the latest potential one off race that could be slotted into the 2013 calendar to make up for the cancelled New Jersey Grand Prix of America which should now take place for the first time in 2014.
Initially the French Grand Prix seemed the most likely to fill the gap, which could if successful lead to a permanent place on the calender either at Paul Ricard or Magny Cours. A clash with the Le Mans  24 hours though on the weekend that the Grand Prix America would have taken place made it look like the French Grand Prix would be unviable. Changes to the calender though have now been made possible for a European race to take place in the three week gap before the German Grand Prix which has been moved to the 7th of July.

All that has been confirmed is that this gap will have a European race slotted in, which could include a Turkish Grand Prix, this is a better solution wherever the race is held as if the race had taken place on the weekend after the Canadian Grand Prix, where the New Jersey race was set to take place, then it would have been tough for teams to get from Montreal to Europe in the two days between finishing the Canadian Grand Prix and being set up again to race in Europe.

The gap being made shows Bernie Ecclestone’s determination to make 2013 another 20 race season and he initially backed a French

istanbul pit straight

Istanbul Park Pit Straight Photo Courtesy of Ph-Stop

Grand Prix, which is still a possibility. The Turkish Government though have said it is up to them whether a race happens at Istanbul Park as the funding is not forthcoming but the Turkish Government have since said they wouldn’t fund a race, meaning a 2013 Turkish Grand Prix could still happen if funding is found elsewhere but is less likely. Istanbul Park is a popular circuit with teams and with fans, although seemingly not local fans who failed to fill the stands in the past.

So now the only other circuit that looked like it might have the  setup in place to host a race in 2013, the Red Bull Ring, formerly the A1 Ring, has thrown its hat into the err…. ring. The circuit at Spielberg hasn’t hosted F1 since 2003 but Dietrich Materschitz has invested heavily in the circuit to bring it up to modern standards and bringing back an Austrian Grand Prix to the circuit, potentially alternating with another circuit, has been on the cards for a year or two now, the circuit reopened in early 2011, with little progress. Funding for the race could potentially come from Red Bull as well though and with F2 at the circuit in 2012 it has been put through its paces with top quality motorsport.

The four circuits in question could all provide good races and European F1 fans will be happy to see an extra race on the continent that has been losing races over the last few years with 2013 otherwise set to have the least World Championship F1 races, 7,  since 1969 when there were 7 European races but of a total of 11 Grand Prix .

Magny Cours bid for 2013 French Grand Prix on September 4th - August 13, 2012 by admin
The Magny Cours circuit

The Magny Cours circuit, photo Public Domain

With Paul Ricard still seen as the more likely venue for the potential return of the French Grand Prix in 2013 the Magny Cours circuit’s owners are being given a chance to put their case forward on Tuesday the 4th of September.


The French Ministry of Sport decided to review the tabled agreement for a 2013 French Grand Prix at the South France Paul Ricard Circuit, which was close to being signed prior to the French Presidential Elections which saw a change of government; now the French Ministry of Sport have tasked the FFSA (Fédération Française du Sport Automobile/ French Federation of Motor Sport) with researching the best place for the French Grand Prix to be held, if it is viable at all without substantial government funding.


It is to the FFSA then including, FFSA president Nicholas Deschaux, that representatives of the Magny Cours circuit will present their case on September the 4th. It is likely to then take a number of weeks for the final report to be prepared and presented to the Ministry of Sport and for the ministry to make a decision and for negotiations for the race to be completed would take a good deal longer meaning a 2013 French Grand Prix looks unlikely though a 2014 French Grand Prix could be a more likely prospect.

French Grand Prix project far from dead in the water - June 5, 2012 by admin
The Magny Cours circuit

The Magny Cours circuit, photo Public Domain

“I think maybe the election that has taken place might have put that back a bit” is what Bernie Ecclestone had to say when asked at Monaco about the 2013 French Grand Prix, the new French Sport’s Minister Valerie Fourneyron has said she will review the plans for the race though she indicated that the venue could be Magny Cours rather than Paul Ricard.


The project is far from dead then and L’Equipe, the French Sport’s paper, reports that Fourneyron has met this week with Nicolas Deschaux the president of the FFSA ( Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile) France’s motor racing organisation. At the same time she will be meeting with representative’s of the Paul Ricard circuit and the region who hope to bring the race to the already popular tourist area but she will meet an equivalent party from Magny Courrs and its region on Friday  in order to give both circuits a fair hearing though it is unclear if she is leaning more to one than the other.



Ecclestone confirms ‘no doubt’ on 2013 French Grand Prix deal - April 22, 2012 by admin

The Paul Ricard circuit, photo by Baptiste Vialatte

Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed to French Sports Paper L’Equipe that the French Grand Prix will be run in 2013 and a deal has been agreed.


It seems terms have been agreed though a contract may not be signed yet but Ecclestone told them that “We actually agreed on financial terms with the Sports Minister, David Douillet, in my office last Tuesday”; although it is belived that the Grand Prix wouldn’t be financed by the Public sector, it could be though that the government are making the fees available to be paid back later from gate receipts.


Bernie Ecclestone also made it clear that the race was not dependent on the outcome of the French presidential elections. He said that he would sign the contract “Before the result of the second round of presidential elections in France, if they wish. Whatever the outcome, I do not care”.


It isn’t clear if this means that the proposed bi-annual race share agreement with the Belgian Grand Prix has been completed now but the newspaper also confirmed that the race will be every other year at Paul Ricard circuit near Marseilles in South France.

Hope still held out for a return to Magny Cours for the French Grand Prix - April 6, 2012 by admin
The Magny Cours circuit

The Magny Cours circuit, photo Public Domain

Perhaps the French Grand Prix returning in 2013 isn’t as certain as we had thought, the fact that the venue may apparently still change suggests so: then again this may just be the Nievre department president Patrice Joly being a little hopeful to bring the race to his area, or even a way to gain support in the run up to elections.


Magny Cours last hosted the French Grand Prix in 2008 having hosted it since 2001, the race was cancelled due to poor attendance though and transport problems. A new stretch of motorway to the Magny Cours circuit’s front door could make it more practical than before as a Grand Prix venue and see it become better attended but a race at Paul Ricard not far form Marsaille and other population centres along the southern coast of France is still likely to be better attended and more popular with the teams.


Other advantages of Paul Ricard include the fact it is owned by Bernie Ecclestone who may like to see a Grand Prix there to benefit himself. Guy Ligier, former owner of the Ligier Formula One team has given his support to the race returning to Magny Cours and claims to have Ecclestone’s ear but without knowing how progressed contract talks might be we don’t know if he is likely to have much luck.

Statement on French Grand Prix negotiations continue – Updated - March 30, 2012 by admin

The Paul Ricard circuit, photo by Baptiste Vialatte

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon visiting the Paul Ricard circuit at La Castellet near Marsaille gave an update regarding the 2013 French Grand Prix, negotiations are ongoing and finnicial arrangements and a circuit to share with need to be agreed. With elections not many weeks away it may be that Fillon was hoping for more positive news, what will make some people happy though is the announcement that no government unding will be given to the race, which is expected to cost $20 million to host.


The organisers and Francopis Fillon himself have draft contracts that are all but agreed it seems but the thing stopping an announcement that the Grand Prix is certain to return in 2013 is the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. The French Grand Prix is thought to be likely to alternate with the Belgian Grand Prix so that each will take place every other year. The Belgians however, though they are keen to alternate, do have a contract that doesn’t end until after 2013 meaning they are currently contracted to host the race next season. It may even be then that the French Grand Pric could still be delayed until 2014 or that both races could take place in 2013, with the Russian Grand Prix running from 2014 one race could take that slot next season if needed. Other options to share a race with could include the Red Bull ring in Austria or even a non European race with several countries such as Mexico waiting in the wings for the chance to host a race.


Some still expected a full confirmation of the race today but as expected it was more an opportunity to release details of the race including provisional dates and the costs which newspapers have already reported to be around €20 million, reasonable compared to many races and perhaps helped by the fact Bernie Ecclestone is the owner of the Paul Ricard circuit.



2013 French Grand Prix all but finalised? - March 8, 2012 by admin

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.



France announces return of French Grand Prix, alternating with Belgium, from 2013 - February 1, 2012 by admin
Nicholas Prost in the 2010 Renault at Paul Ricard

Nicholas Prost in the 2010 Renault at Paul Ricard, photo by Nicholas Garcia

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.




Could France’s central location aid return of a Grand Prix - June 22, 2011 by admin

The 1906 French Grand Prix - Public domain




The number of Formula One races is partly limited to logistics, teams bemoan being forever on the road and travelling to far flung corners of the world. However with the teams all based in western Europe a quick trip to a French Grand Prix might be easier to fit in; next weekend between Valencia and Silverstone for example: it’s en route.


It looks as if there is a good chance of a French Grand Prix as early as 2013 and fans and many teams, not least Renault, would welcome a return for the World’s oldest Grand Prix. Prime Minister Fillon has set up a task force to resurrect the Grand Prix with Paul Ricard Circuit director Gerard Neveu on the team.


It could well be Paul Ricard that hosts the Grand Prix then down in the South of France, though quite close to Monaco. In some ways Magny Cours could be a better option now it has improved transport links with the motorway from Paris now coming right up to the front door; Magny Cours though central is still in the middle of nowhere mind you.


There are no other circuits currently at Formula One standards in France though a Grand Prix at Le Mans will inevitably be mentioned and potentially considered. If the necessary work at Le Mans was done who would say no? There was Formula One at Le Mans in 1967 on the permanent Bugatti circuit which presumably would be what Formula One would use were it to return there.

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