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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.

 

 

French Grand Prix may not take place in 2013 as new government take stock - May 22, 2012 by admin
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.

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.

Could France’s central location aid return of a Grand Prix - June 22, 2011 by admin
1906_French_Grand_Prix_Finish

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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