Normand Legault Q&A

Although Bernie Ecclestone recently axed the Canadian Grand Prix from the Formula 1 calendar due to the country's new anti-tobacco legislation, race promoter Normand Legault has continued to fight to keep the event running next season. Along with members of the Canadian government, Legault travelled to the Hungarian Grand Prix to meet with Ecclestone and F1 bosses for talks about the return of the Montreal-based race to the calendar. Jonathan Noble spoke to Legault in Hungary about the progress he had made.

Normand Legault Q&A



"I think it's going swimmingly. It has been a busy day, especially for the two ministers and the president of the board of trade, who were all present at a grand prix for the first time. They were introduced to team principals for the first time, along with personnel from the tyre manufacturers, so it has been a long day. We spent a fair amount of time with Mr. Ecclestone and we had what I would call some very good discussions on the issues and all in all I think it has been a good day."



"I would be tempted to say yes, at least we have put a finger on the various issues that needed to be addressed and quantified them very precisely so we have a clear picture of what the hurdles are and what needs to be accomplished to overcome them."



"I would say first of all that the team principals appreciation of Montreal and its role on the calendar has been totally unanimous. On the various issues, the vast majority have been positive, I would call it that."



"Definitely. Over the last week the Prime Minister of Canada, the Premier of the Province of Quebec, the Mayor of Montreal and the President of the Board of Trade have all written to the various manufacturers and we are already receiving feedback from these letters. Some of the manufacturers have told us that their chairman has received the letter and will be responding, and some have already assured us of their support."



"He is always very difficult to do business with. In that regard, he is very straightforward to what the situation is. But at the same time the team principals have been straightforward and accommodating and we have imposed on their time in what is a busy time for all of them. They have listened to us, they have expressed their views on it, and based on all of this I feel pretty confident."



"That is an option that is being considered. Obviously they would have to race unbranded with no tobacco advertising. The other question is where would the compensation come from: which part would come from Mr. Ecclestone, which part from ourselves and/or from some of the manufacturers that are involved with the teams."



"The fines are established in the legislation. In Italy I have been told that it is a thousand dollars, in Canada the fines are $300,000 per offence, per day. So this is a level of fine that even F1 cannot fund."



"For some of the teams, yes. The contracts between the teams and their tobacco sponsors are not all the same, some teams have a minimum number of races where they must run branded, so an 18th race does not take away from them. Other teams cannot have more than so many races unbranded and an 18th doesn't solve the problem. There are a number of issues, but what we have found in the vast majority of cases is that there is a genuine desire to find a solution to those problems."



"I guess we have to probably find a solution within the next fortnight. I don't think we have more than two weeks."



"It is hard to say, but I think yes."

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