No more Magny-Cours? Heard it before

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, Magny-Cours, 2005, 470150

Bernie Ecclestone has reiterated his desire to see the 2009 French Grand Prix held in Paris instead of its current venue Magny-Cours:

We agreed that there would be a French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours in 2008 but not in 2009. Prime Minister Francois Fillon told me we would then see if we could have a Grand Prix in Paris or just outside but that would not necessarily be for 2009, rather for 2010. In any case, 2008 will be the last time we continue like this.

That raises the prospect of there being no French Grand Prix in 2009, even though Magny-Cours’ current contract is supposed to include a race there next year.

Earlier this year Ecclestone revealed he was trying to arrange a Paris Grand Prix for 2009. There’s been no notable public response from anyone interested in hosting the race and F1’s only French team Renault (the chassis department for which is based in Britain, the engine department in Viry-Ch?â?ótillon on the outskirts of Paris) are not exactly giving the plan any vocal enthusiastic support.

It’s possible that anyone who might be interested in setting up a new street race in France might be waiting to see how smoothly the Grand Prix at Valencia goes in September. The European Union has expressed reservations about the new European Grand Prix’s organisation.

Ecclestone made exactly the same threat last year but relented and agreed to keep Magny-Cours on the calendar for 2008. France held the first recognised Grand Prix in 1906 and since the world championship began in 1950 only failed to hold a race in 1955, when its Grand Prix was cancelled in the wake of that year’s Le Mans disaster that killed over 80 people.

Dropping it from the calendar for a single year, when the contract is already in place and half the teams are based only a Channel crossing away from the circuit seems the very definition of cutting your nose to spite your face. But, as American Formula 1 fans know well, that’s not a concept Ecclestone understands.

More on the French Grand Prix at Magny Cours

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20 comments on No more Magny-Cours? Heard it before

  1. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th May 2008, 10:04

    I picked the Le Mans track (as used in F1 in ’67) as one of F1’s 10 worst circuits last year.

    In the past French GPs have also been held at Reims, Rouen-les-Essarts and Clermont-Ferrand (the latter today still has a small offshoot track). There’s also a circuit at Nogaro.

    See here for a list of former homes of the French Grand Prix.

  2. chalky – I never realised that Bernie (or his company) actually owned circuits too! That does mean that the GP will be heading to Paul Ricard then, even if work does need doing to it. That explains a lot! Though it would be good to get Martin Brundle or someone to ask Bernie about it and see if he does his usual denial.
    Does he (or his company) own any circuits in Britain? the only ones I can think of are owned by Jonathan Palmer’s group.

  3. Sav722 said on 17th May 2008, 12:31

    Just remember, before last year’s French Grand Prix Bernie was adamant Magny-Cours would not be on the F1 calender in 2008…and what do we know, Magny-Cours returns in 2008.

    So therefore I agree with the headline, I have heard it before.

  4. There is an interview in today’s Daily Telegraph with Bernie where he has done his annual ‘Pay Up Or No Silverstone’ speech. This time he says that the agreement for 2010 is in doubt, and that the new plans for the circuit are very dubious.
    Perhaps he wants to buy the circuit for his collection? Then he can charge what he wants, and nobody in Britain will be able to afford to see an F1 race there!
    Actually, if he did buy it, he would probably put the prices up for the other events that go on there too, and no fans would go there ever again!
    What were you saying about Magny-Cours, Sav722?

  5. In the light of what we are discussing, I have just sent the following to ITV Sport:

    Bernie Bernie: This weekend, could Martin get an interview with Bernie and ask him:
    a) is he planning to move the French GP to Paul Ricard?
    b) is he planning to buy Silverstone before 2010?
    c) why is Monaco exempt from all the safety changes imposed recently?
    d) when does he expect to merge the FIA and FOG?

    I don’t think they would listen to a humble viewer’s request, but if they did do the interview it would be worth listening to!

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