France rushing to complete GP deal

By on Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Paul Ricard, France

The French government is dashing to seal the lid on the country's return to F1.

Bernie Ecclestone has said a deal has been reached to annually alternate a race between Paul Ricard in France and Belgium's fabled Spa-Francorchamps.

But the final signature and official announcement are still missing.

David Douillet, the French sports minister, told Le Journal du Dimanche that the chance France will be on the 2013 calendar is "90 per cent".

"The contract is going back and forth between the lawyers. I hope I get to London to meet with Bernie Ecclestone between Wednesday and Friday," he added.

The newspaper said Douillet is dashing to complete the deal by this weekend's presidential election, because socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande has hinted the grand prix project would be reviewed if he is elected.

Douillet admitted that it is "very likely" Hollande would "bury" the race.

Le JDD newspaper said organisers and Ecclestone have agreed the race sanctioning fee, EUR 22 million, which is still a few million short of guaranteeing a balanced budget.

And "without a balanced budget, we do not sign," he warned. "The state, which does not participate financially, is still the guarantor of any debt."

There also remains an odd silence from the Belgian side, who have not confirmed that Spa is the circuit that will alternate with France.

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