GP future uncertain for Canada and France

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The 2009 F1 calendar remains in a state of flux after financial issues forced both the Canadian and French GPs to be dropped.

In October the FIA issued a revised calendar that did not include Canada, and days later the FFSA made a surprise announcement that the 2009 French GP, scheduled for June 28, would not take place.

The loss of Canada was greeted with huge disappointment by F1 team bosses, as it was the sport’s only foothold in North America. Bernie Ecclestone claimed that promoter GPF1 Inc had not paid “50 per cent of the money over the last three years”, an accusation denied by race organisers. Marketing vice-president Paul Wilson said: “We have a disagreement regarding monetary obligations, but only for ’08.”

The man behind the event is Normand Legault, until recently a close associate of Ecclestone. Aside from a short hiatus, he has been involved with the race since 1978. In ’97 he became the promoter. He is chairman and CEO of GPF1 Inc, and it is his company rather than the local government that ran the event, and carried all associated risks.

Sources in France suggest the most likely future home of the French GP will be a temporary track at Disneyland Paris. The project would be run by the giant Lagadère media group – owners of Virgin’s music and book interests, and long associated with Matra. Alain Prost is involved in the bid. Another possible solution is for Lagadère to run the race at Magny-Cours before Disney is available.