The deal behind the return of the French GP
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The deal behind the return of the French GP

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Former motorcycle racer Christian Estrosi is one of the driving forces behind the revival of the French Grand Prix. Previously a government minister, Estrosi has occupied a number of roles in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, and is currently the Mayor of Nice. He's the man who engaged backing from the region to meet the race fee, enticed French F1 figures to support it, and who finally did the deal with Bernie Ecclestone, reports ANTHONY ROWLINSON

F1 Racing: How hard has it been to get the French GP back on the Formula 1 calendar?

Christian Estrosi: It's taken many years. Different elements were essential, such as having a circuit, a great working group, and support from French drivers, a French team, and other French figures involved in F1. And, after the failure of different projects, it was necessary to have Bernie Ecclestone's confidence. The hardest thing was to keep this project secret. It all started just after my regional election, and I set out on it with part of the team who had participated in the two previous attempts to bring the race back, and with advice from Eric Boullier and Cyril Abiteboul, two important French individuals in F1 [at McLaren and Renault]. Having convinced all communities to make the financial commitment necessary to pay the Formula 1 board, we proposed it to Bernie. It happened in October 2016 at the FIA in Geneva. After 10 minutes discussion, we agreed, with a handshake. Eric explained to me that Bernie needed to be convinced that on a such project, there was a leader with decision autonomy. In France, communities can have this level of freedom and we've proved it.

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