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French F1 GP hopes dashed

Government refuses to fund cash demands from Magny Cours and Le Castellet to host 2013 race

HOPES for the return of a French F1 GP next year have taken a dent as the government has confirmed that it will not subsidise either of the two tracks bidding to host the race.

Both Magny Cours in Nièvre and Le Castellet in Var had included an element of state funding in their bids to the Fédération Française du Sport Automobile.

However, Sports Minister Valérie Fourneyron told FFSA president Nicolas Deschaux the government would not finance F1's return to France.

The plan, a pet project of former prime minister and car racing fan François Fillon, was never likely to rank highly with President Hollande who told a TV interviewer before his election that he did not like F1. He added that "F1 circuits have no place in sporting competition" when the rest of the world is fighting global warming.

Later he said there were many better and more urgent things that could be funded "without giving tens of millions to Grand Prix".

Magny Cours had hosted the GP from 1991 to 2008 when it was dropped from the F1 calendar.

Although a GP is said to bring in €50million in economic benefits, Magny Cours included an annual state subsidy of €2m plus financial guarantees against losses in its proposals to host the race while the Paul Ricard track at Le Castellet had wanted the state to provide financial guarantees only.

Fourneyron has made it clear since she was appointed that she was never likely to offer state aid to the high-spending F1 racers and it is now very unlikely that either circuit will be able to proceed.

Le Castellet, which is owned by F1 organiser Bernie Ecclestone through his company Excelis, could hope to make some progress by obtaining private investment, but the 2013 calendar is published in three days and time is running out.

It included in its proposals a suggestion that it host the event in alternate years with another circuit, and there had been suggestions that Magny Cours could step in - if funding permitted.

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