It seems that French motorsport is continuing on its downward spiral. The country may boast the World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb, but the motorsport industry in France is gradually eroding away. The latest blow is an announcement from Alain Schmitz, the President of the Conseil General des Yvelines, that the plan to build a Formula 1 circuit at Flins-Mureaux is now officially dead.
The plan was to use the facility to assist in the creation of a Automobile and Sustainable Mobility Valley but the idea was not sustainable and one wonders if the same will not ultimately happen to the French automobile industry, which is suffering. The country still has two manufacturers: Renault and Peugeot-Citroen but in the long-term there is little chance that both can survive as the industry continues to have too much production and not a sufficient number of customers.
Magny Cours remains the only serious candidate for a French Grand Prix, despite its problems of being too remote from a big population centre and there being insufficient infrastructure in the region. This means it is less likely that there will be a Grand Prix de France – and one could argue that the French have basically given up trying to preserve their heritage in automobile racing. The country has lost not only its Grand Prix – the first race to bear the name – but also the long-established Grand Prix de Pau. There is no national single-seater championship left. There is no Formula 1 team beyond Renault F1, which is really British. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest at Le Mans, which counts among its membership the Prime Minister Francois Fillon, seems to be interested only in running the 24 Hours. It is a sad state of affairs. The same situation occurred in the last 1950s when Amedee Gordini’s attempts to compete in F1 came to an end but even then the Grand Prix continued. What France needs now is some enlightened leadership to revive the industry.
Back in the 1960s this was largely done by one man: Francois Guiter, who used the sport to tell the world about the Elf petrol company. What France needs now is another Guiter.