No more Magny-Cours? Heard it before

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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?�?�tillon 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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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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

  1. Keith, it’s not like the teams will fight for this race either. It may just be a quick trip through the Chunnel, but the fact is, it’s still in the middle of nowhere and the teams don’t like that.

  2. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr
    14th May 2008, 12:46

    why doesnt eccelstone just pick 18 countries and host street races in the capitla of eaach 1?? thats all he seems intrested in doing

  3. Because in five years’ time he’ll get bored of it and want everyone to do something different…

  4. I think the main problem with Magny Cours is basically the lack of interest in F1 in France. Lets face it, the last French champion was Alain Prost, FIFTEEN years ago.
    On top of that, with Bernie charging these circuit organisers so much just to hold these events, how can they be expected to make a profit when the place is not getting filled? Silverstone and Barcelona both suffered from low attendances until the arrival of Hamilton and Alonso, which certainly kept Silverstone ticking over for a few more years.
    For there to be a future in France, there needs to be a competitive French driver in a competitive team. With Bourdais in a Toro Rosso, that looks unlikely.
    It was the same in the U.S. Scott Speed in a slow car was not a big enough draw to attract the masses.

  5. the limit, last time i spoke to you I didn’t mean to offend you, but this time…

    … dude your talking out of your bum.

    I’m french and I think Jean Alesi is crap, most of my Brit friends hate Hamilton and Button and everyone knows the best thing about Scott Speed is his name, even the yanks (yes I know yanks are only 13 states, but still).

    nationality only goes some way into any way of life before money gets involved. Ing is a Dutch bank that found 60 percent growth in the asian market after sponsoring a french racing company with an Italian driver.

    The reason F1 shouldn’t be at Magny Cours is because no one watches the race, and the locals are farmers. Bernie knows this…. he see’s the ratings and the money.

  6. But even so, sush, nationality draws many casual fans to F1. Let’s face it, most of those Alonso fans wouldn’t watch the boring GP at Barcelona if he wasn’t in F1.

    But yes, you’re also right: this track is in the middle of nowhere! Surely, they can do better than this.

  7. that is correct Journeyer (damn you, for always being right), although at the same time my statement still holds true.

    the casual fans being the lowest common denominator are the ones that are more easily manipulated, if I was a casual fan I’d probably tune into a Paris race through word of mouth.

    But Magny cours?

  8. It’s true that having a sucessful driver of a certain nationality may draw interest from casual fans in a given country. However, at least here in America, I don’t think it would be the deciding factor in propelling the sport to a new tier of popularity. American interest in F1 can be grown and developed, but it will most likley never reach the level seen in places such as Brazil and Britain. I’d love to see a sucessful American in F1, but I know that there’s no viable prospects at the moment, and that won’t cause me to lose interest.

    Now, as for messing with someone’s Grand Prix, that’s a different story. The regulars on here all know how passionate I am about a return for the USGP, and I would imagine French fans would be similarily upset if their race was off the schedule. I understand that the remote location of the track is a problem, but Bernie’s Paris street race idea is just for the glitz and glamour that he loves- I don;t think it would produce a very good race, but we’ll see how the new street tracks do this season.

    My main quesiton is, if it was a good race at Paul Ricard, why did it ever leave there in the first place?

  9. michael counsell
    14th May 2008, 18:48

    Threatening to cancel the race the following year tends to bring in the spectators. But hasn’t this happened too many times already.

  10. “that is correct Journeyer (damn you, for always being right)”

    I’ll take that as a compliment, thank you. :)

  11. Sush, I agree with what you have said 100%. It does come down to money at the end of the day, but that is also the point I was making but just more ‘bluntly’.
    Personally, like most of you, I look at these things from a fans perspective.
    I want to see the old venues kept on the calender, the classic circuits that are F1. The people involved in making the decisions, ofcourse, think of it from a business stand point, and what makes money and what does not.
    My point being, everyone needs a hero. In Britain, until Hamilton, interest in F1 was limited to its ‘diehard’ fanbase, the majority didn’t even watch F1. In Spain, until Alonso, the Spanish were into motorbike racing.
    The point is, to safeguard the French Grand Prix, it would be nice to see a French driver, a competitive one, who has a chance of winning.
    When a football team is winning, everybody is interested, when it is losing, people switch off. Nationality does matter, in the eyes of the fans anyway.
    Ask a Spaniard in Valencia who he or she will be supporting? I bet you 1000 euros it won’t be Giancarlo Fisichella!

  12. Ask a Spaniard in Valencia who he or she will be supporting? I bet you 1000 euros it won’t be Giancarlo Fisichella!

    I’d take that same bet in Monza…

  13. I agree with the comment that maybe the French authorities are waiting to see how the Valencia race goes before agreeing to a street race in Paris, as maybe the British are too, as Bernie regularly condemns Silverstone (so much so its almost a tradition now!)and wants a street race in London.
    As for France, if it is difficult for them to arrange a street race, why don’t they come to an arrangement with the Le Mans circuit, thats a street circuit after all, not in the middle of nowhere, and quite well known apparently…..
    The British I think could actually do with a London circuit, either around the flashy Docklands, where it is not going to interfere with anybody over a weekend, or perhaps they could build a racing circuit into the Olympic Park – I am sure it would be big enough and there are already questions over it’s future.
    I am also wondering why Bernie suddenly likes street circuits, as it wasn’t too long ago all circuits without adequate runoffs at the corners were condemned, blacklisted and squashed (apart from Monaco), but now suddenly if you can build a street circuit in your city its wonderful (and if you look at the pictures of F1 cars doing tricks in cities, you see there just isn’t adequate safety protection between the cars and the public. I think it’s all very confusing….)
    Maybe Bernie is tired of the travel between the International Airport and the circuit – maybe we could have F1 racing at the airports, to save his legs! hehe

  14. “My main quesiton is, if it was a good race at Paul Ricard, why did it ever leave there in the first place?”

    Well, Bernie now owns Paul Ricard, or his company does anyway. The only reason I can think of why the French GP will never return to Paul Ricard is that Bernie would haven no one to moan at about the facilities not being world class. :D
    He’d have to fork out quite a bit to make the required grandstands \ public facilities \ access roads \ car parks etc…

    I cannot see an F1 race happening in Paris, although I’m sure a very impressive looking race can be held there.
    Mainly due to money and the closure of major roads.

    A London GP will never happen either. What Bernie wants for a GP in money does not make such a venue worthwhile. London is struggling to get the 2012 Olympics up and running and that is it’s priority for sport at the moment.

    I’m trying to think which French circuit could host a GP. The WTCC uses Pau, but that’s far too narrow for F1.
    Even though it’s another street circuit for Bernie.

  15. Only other French circuit I know other than Paul Ricard, Pau and Le Mans is Dijon.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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?

  20. 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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