Minister fights for French GP

The future of the French Grand Prix still hangs in the balance after the country's sports minister said today that the race's hopes were not necessarily dead. The only certainty seems to be confusion, as various claims and counter-claims circulated today in France

Minister fights for French GP

"A decision is yet to be taken by the competent authorities," said Minister Jean-François Lamour. "I will do all I can to persuade the FIA to keep the Grand Prix for the good of motor sport."

Yet other reports say that the cancellation will soon be confirmed by the FIA. This morning (Saturday) the president of the local conseil general, Marcel Charmant, was quoted in a regional newspaper as saying the race was off for sure.

"The financial situation of the company that manages the circuit means it cannot pay the necessary guarantees to Bernie Ecclestone for the staging of the 2004 race."

Charmant's authority is the majority owner of the company in question. The race has lost money for the last two years, said the report in the Journal du Centre.

This afternoon, however, the race promoter Roland Hodel said that a five-year deal had been concluded with Ecclestone for the race to take place from 2005 to 2009 at Magny-Cours.

"We'll take a break in 2004," said Hodel. "Bernie Ecclestone has agreed to this."

France hosted the very first national Grand Prix in 1906, and has only once been absent from the world championship calendar. That was in 1955, following the Le Mans disaster of that year.

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French Grand Prix Set to be Cancelled in 2004

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