French GP rumours

France’s Prime Minister François Fillon will be visiting the Paul Ricard circuit shortly but this is not a sign of an announcement regarding a return for the French GP. Fillion says that he has received a draft contract from the Formula One group but negotiations are still taking place, while the Belgian GP (with which France will alternate the race) is not yet at this point of discussions. One should also take into account the fact that the French election is not three weeks away and the government is unlikely to do anything that could be construed as wasting public money, which some feel a Grand Prix might do. The opinion polls now show that President Nicolas Sarkozy is ahead of his challenger François Hollande in the first round of voting, but is still several percentage points behind in the run-off, when all the other candidates are removed from the process. Sarkozy continues to campaign as the experienced politician who has dealt with the financial crisis as well as can be expected, while Hollande continues to argue that change is needed. It is a very interesting situation and with three weeks to go, the result looks like being very close. Hollande has had as much as 62 percent in his favour in opinion polls about the second round, but in recent weeks that has dwindled to 53 percent.

25 thoughts on “French GP rumours

  1. Not that I wouldn’t mind the French GP, in fact I think they deserve the GP if only because of the many French GP drivers nowadays but I do have problems with the Belgian GP having to alternate with the French GP. Can’t they find another circuit to alternate with? (like the Spanish GP, most races are boring so they wouldn’t be missed as much)
    The Belgian GP is such an iconic and, in my opinion, one of the most interesting races of the season that I would hate it if it wasn’t there every season. It such an important part of GP history that an F1 season without Spa wouldn’t be as exciting as one with it (Same could be said for Silverstone, Canada and Monaco).
    I wish Bernie would decide the historic importance of some circuits is more important than squeezing out as much money as possible, at least for most of the fans. If only the FIA, or some other organisation, could demand that the interesting races can’t be pulled off the calender because of money reasons… (I know Bernie is paid to bring in money and that this isn’t his highest priority but still… that wonderful wishful thinking)

    1. I totally agree with Robin: let no one touch the cicruit of Spa, as it is the drivers’ favorite venue, for good reasons.
      It is also one of the most telling and spectacular place for the monstrous cars that in effect are F1 machines.

      Circuit Paul Ricard, although better than dull and dumb Magny-Cours is far away from any big city and international airports.It is totaly outdated and I suppose France has other budget solutions to its financial mayhem than satisfying French Prime Minister’s well-known (and admirable) passion for racing cars.
      So IMHO, there is no alternative to Spa-Francorchamp (and I’m not from Belgium)

    2. Something to consider is the fact that Spa cannot afford to host a GP every year, so they are all for alternating. What I would like to see is France and Belgium alternating races at Spa; i.e. one year it’s the Belgium GP and one year it’s the French GP. The point being trhere’s a race every year at Spa.

  2. Don’t the French have patriotic feelings about no longer having a Grand Prix, having once been the hosts of The Grand Prix?

    For all our many failings, the UK’s landmark sporting events, The Open Championship and Wimbledon, still maintain their preeminance in their own sports, defying commercial logic. But then, in those sports nobody sold away control to venture capitalists.

  3. As I understand it Bernie had Paul Ricard re-built/developed as a test circuit only. With ten garages/pits and all the electronic timing gadgets a swish restaurant etc but no large grandstands, but, he is quoted as saying “he did not want spectators messing it up”. All this was done ten or more years ago so even what was done then is probably in need of replacement. SO basically it’s going to need a huge amount of money spent in order to make the facilities usable. Then there’s the track, I doubt if it meets the current regs for barriers, marshal moats and run off areas, it will need completely re-wiring too. (Still I expect Bernie can get Tata to do that foc)
    But there is existing Magny Cours which is much nearer the requirements. So what went wrong at Magny Cours? The race is suppose to bring hundreds of millions of $ of benefit to the surrounding area, indeed GP+ gave some figures on that recently, I have always suspected that a lot of it goes into pre-arranged channels and disappears out of the area without touching the ground, most certainly the circuit does not benefit, in fact the GP is normally an event heavily subsidised by the circuit’s activities throughout the rest of the year.

    I know that Joe does not agree but Europe is littered with ex GP circuits where such a multimillion dollar influx would see a flourishing community able to continue paying for a GP just for the prestige. Meanwhile my council tax has gone up again.

  4. The French racing heritage is second to none and I love it. I’ve just bought a really tatty original circuit cadours poster – Not Raymond Sommers year (thank goodness).

    Little village, middle of the hot countryside, anonymous to all who drive through – but forever etched in history.

    Love it.

      1. Joe – perhaps this could be your next book? A scenic tour guide of historic GP locations in France. You seem to take every opportunity to visit them – as would I if I lived in the country (I’ve visited the bones of many no longer existing hillclimb and sprint venues in the UK, many of which have an longer history than most UK GP circuits) – so why not plot out some routes for the rest fo us to follow along with some background and history of the venues? If it’s succesful then a series to follow, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy … something to do in the off-season?

          1. Mmmmm – Fair comment (Obvious really)

            (Tried to keep this brief but couldn’t – sorry)

            Well, I did say that it would be great to have a guide to some of the less well known or partially forgotten GP/race circuits in Europe, esp some of the road courses like Cadours, Pescara, Deauville, Boulogne, Berne, Schwamendingen, Clermont, Fuengirola (mmmmm, maybe) etc, etc and some of the greats that are now neglected like Montlhery, Miramas, Sitges (ok that’s not so great but it is a bit special), and so on. Also include any that figured, stood out or somehow made their mark on the history of the sport.

            The key to the book however would be not only a brief history of the circuit, funding, building, characters/clubs behind it etc but would also include a schedule of events that it hosted – inc drivers/cars/results and a 2 line resume of each race – but where available – an important point – anecdotes from living (surviving !) drivers that raced there. A feel for the procedures and atmosphere of raceday and talk us through a qualifying/practice lap.
            Finally – and this would be critical – a googlemap image (then and now), directions how to get there and how to drive the surviving track today, some historic pics from yestreyear and current pics showing the roads today.

            Overall not too much of a job then.

            I’ve spent many years driving all over Europe and took every opportunity to visit as many of these obscure circuits as I could but was always frustrated that I had no real info.

            You sprang to mind as the man to do it when I read your GP Encyclopedia some years ago. Anyone with that volume of knowledge and work rate could knock this off from their desk in a couple of months – pics notwithstanding – maybe!

            If anybody even vaguely interested in motor racing actually went to Rouen and drove the first 300m from the start to the cobbled hairpin, and then looked at the classic pic of Fangio sliding down through the esses at around 110mph – I’m sure that their perspective would be changed for the better and they would have a richer appreciation of what the sport was then compared to today – no better or worse but very different. Then you think about Birrell and Schlesser. Then you realise that most of the 70’s and early80’s GP drivers actually raced semi-contemporarymachinery there.

            Gives alot more depth to the sport I think.

            When I last mentioned this one of your followers recommended the ‘Encyclopedia of Motor Racing’, which I have read, but it doesn’t quite cover the lot.

            You’re lucky, I can’t go on as I’ve got to do the shopping now before it rains.

            1. PS – Forgot to mention the original Spa, that was a circuit.
              Everytime a formula car cleared Burnenville and headed off down the Masta straight I bet every driver was really looking forward to the ‘kink’. Esp if it was a bit drizzly. Or is it, maybe its just condensation or tree mist, mmmmmmmm.

              So Rodriguez, Amon or Siffert are up your chuff, it might be raining (or not) and you’ve got to decide whether you’re going to take it flat just shy of 180mph.

              More critical decisions in 4 hours than most of us make in a lifetime.

            2. Interested Party – strangely enough it was me who recommended Joes ‘World Atlas of Motor Racing’ after you made the suggestion of him writing a guide to defunct tracks before. I think we should keep mentioning it every so often as a kind of subliminal persuasion. I want that book!

            3. Interested,

              I most certainly remember your mapping effort, and was very grateful for it. If I omitted to thank you then, please forgive me, and allow me to thank you wholeheartedly for your efforts. My wish late last year to drive these wonderful spots was kyboshed by my co-driver (actually that is best done the other way around, as I am shamefully not of his proficiency!) being unexpectedly committed to family matters. But such plans are not now gathering dust on the shelf, thanks to your cartographic energy.

              Incidentally, I really really do wish now there was some neater way to flick back through the commentary submissions. I know I harp on about this and simply should pull my finger out, but may I humbly suggest that a fortnightly “best of” both Joe’s articles and select interesting but related (i.e. not my economic or legal tangents!) would be a very welcome feature.

              – j

      2. PS – I’m definitely going to give Cadours a try when I’m next down in the area.

        From what I can see on Google maps the circuit is pretty much exactly as it was in the day. (Unlike Rouen and Reims – although they’re pretty close). Even the remains of the footbridge down at the first corner near the monument.
        I found some old pics of cars running through there on the first lap and the bridge geometry is still pretty much spot on.

        Just to be in these places and sit still, and breathe the same air as they did back when – it’s very easy to feel what it must have been like. However quiet and rural the area I always feel the electric in the air from days gone by.

        Am I getting weird……………………………..sorry.

  5. It was a sad day when the Ricard Circuit was no longer in use. The run, down the long Mistral straight, was one of the best views in racing. To see cars then make the hard right, on the edge of adhesion, always made the hairs on my neck stand up.
    I only hope F1 returns to the circuit, but no chicanes, please.
    ( Doesn’t Bernie still own a piece of that track?)

    1. I remember standing at the end of that straight in ’73, 4, 5 or 6 (can’t really remember when) on the opening lap of the GP and having the surreal experience of the whole grid barreling down the mistral with almost no engine noise reaching us. Then slowly we heard the whump-whump-whump of what we assumed was vortex shedding quickly followed by the rapidly rising whine of the engines to a blasting crescendo. That got the heart thumping. Then, as you say, the almost flat (bet it wasn’t really!) sweep into the right at the end of the straight. Just mind blowing.

      Combined with the sun beating down and the smell of Gitanes it all made for a very heady day out.

  6. I have the solution to the Spa issue. Get Germany to invade again, then it can take over from Nurburgring…

  7. If Hollande wins then F1 will in due course be the last thing on French fans minds and France better get ready to join the Spanish Greeks etc. not far down the tracks

  8. It’ll be an absolute joke if Bernie alternates this with Spa. Why take the best track in the sport off the calendar every other year? Why does Bernie not realise that continuing to do stuff like this is just going to alienate the fans and kill the sport off? Although I suppose if there’s money in it for him he doesn’t care what’s going on as long as he gets to line his pockets at the end of it.

  9. Spa, Monaco, Interlagos, Silverstone and Monza are F1 heritages, and should not be left apart of any championship, by any chance.

    You can hardly tell a single boring race on those venues. Crowds are passionate. Tracks are great.

    France surely deserves a Grand Prix but … there are several other Tilke-boring-options to be replaced.

  10. Canuck here, but Spa is my favourite race of the year. It will be a sad day indeed if this iconic track were taken off the calendar. There are other, less interesting races that can go… Spa is part of F1 heritage and should be left untouched. Maybe Bernie is getting senile in his old age…. can’t wait for him to step aside.

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