Conducted and provided by Paul Ricard's press office.
Q. Is welcoming the French F1 GP at the Paul Ricard circuit, an official question for you?
Gerard Neveu: Yes, we have decided to think seriously about what needs to be done to welcome a Formula One Grand Prix. But this full consideration has just started a few days ago. Every time the French Grand Prix has had problems, people, media, drivers have asked: why not at the Paul Ricard circuit? Up to now, we did not want, nor had a good reason to realise such a race.
Nevertheless, our circuit does have the Degree 1 FIA track homologation, which allows us, technically speaking, to welcome a F1 GP. Furthermore, we have re-opened the Paul Ricard circuit to visitors this year, and the public did a very warm welcome to this initiative, this also gives us the right to think, it could be an idea.
Q. Why today?
GN: Since last year and after the suspension of Grand Prix de France, many different projects of new circuits in France came out. At this time we had no legitimacy to think we should apply. During last winter 2008/2009, we built grandstands on our circuit, and re-opened this mythical place to visitors. During the first events this year, the new grandstands were full, and it was a great success. This also made us think about the evolution of racing on our track.
Projects of new circuits in France seem to have encountered some difficulties. As of today, thanks to the great success we had, as well for competitors and for visitors, and after the numerous solicitations here and there, it became right for us to think our circuit could be a solution. Therefore we started to think on what we would need to do, to welcome a GP. Nevertheless, we have pointed out that there are five major points, for which we need to have answers, in order to apply and have a true legitimacy.
Q. What are the five points to clear out in order to apply for the welcome of a F1 Grand Prix?
GN: One of them is to have a FIA homologated track for F1. We have the homologation since 2006. Nevertheless it needs to be revalidated every three year. The FIA just renewed our F1 'Degree 1' track homologation last week, after Mr. Charlie Whiting's visit. This first point is, so to say, dealt with, and it gives us an additional motivation to go ahead.
Another point is, that our close political, economical, but also media surrounding as well as visitors and competitors, must be with us, and support our action. As of today, this point seems to be quite dealt with, but we will need to confirm and concretise positive energy.
Also very important is that we absolutely want to go on with our positive environmental attitude. Since the new Paul Ricard HTTT, and even more in the last few months, we have always given an important place to environment, and we will continue that way, even if we welcome a worldwide and very prestigious race such as an F1 Grand Prix. We are to guaranty environmental quality and not destroy any part of the place.
Of course one of the points comes straight from the Formula One world. Official authorities, as well as Mr Bernie ECCLESTONE must be approving the return of the Grand Prix at Le Castellet, on the Paul Ricard circuit.
Finally an essential point is that the organisation or co-organisation of the French Formula One Grand Prix must be economically viable. We know the costs are very high to welcome Formula One, but we want to find the right financial reasonable balance, even more in current times.
Q. And what will be the next step?
GN: First of all, we need to have positive answers to the five different points in order to go ahead. If we make it and this is what we are talking about in the numerous discussions we have had and still are having, then only we will think about applying to the F1 official authorities and propose the possibility of welcoming at the Paul Ricard HTTT the next French F1GP.