Formula One fans have been assured by Bernie Ecclestone that the sport will never consider holding a race for just VIP guests, after the suggestion of a spectator-free Grand Prix surfaced last weekend.
Paul Ricard track boss Philippe Gurdjian hinted over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend that his circuit would consider holding a race without spectators amid speculation linking the circuit with plans for a Mediterranean Grand Prix.
"We would be happy with just the Paddock Club (corporate hospitality) guests, the media and television coverage," Gurdjian revealed. "It is possible to make a Grand Prix without spectators. It would be a race for VIPs."
But Ecclestone has moved to make it clear that he would not endorse any suggestion of ignoring fans by holding a race without them.
"We would never, ever put on an event on the calendar without spectators," he told autosport.com. "We want to make sure that there are at the very least 70,000 people in the grandstands - although we would much prefer to have the 132,000 who were there at Spain last weekend."
Ecclestone said that there were no current plans for Paul Ricard to host a Grand Prix, even though he has helped renovate the circuit into a high-tech testing facility.
"I've no idea what they want to do," said Ecclestone, who claims he is not involved in any arrangement at Paul Ricard, because it is owned by a trust that has been put aside for his family.
"But if they wanted to, they could bring the facilities at Ricard up a bit and choose to promote it."