FEBRUARY 2, 2009
French politicians quibble over French GP
The French Senate last week voted to fast-track the authorisation for construction of a new Formula 1 circuit at Flins, in the Seine Valley, to the west of Paris. The project, known as "Yvelines F1 - Automobile Valley" is part of a programme to relaunch the economy in the area, which has been badly affected in recent years by cutbacks in the automobile industry. The scheme has the support of the Prime Minister Francois Fillon and the ruling Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) party. No sooner had this been done than a parliamentary commission, which exists to settle disagreements between the two houses of the French parliament, decided to block the amendment, thus slowing down the process again.
The motion that went through the Senate stated that the French GP was of national importance and fast action was required to guarantee a race in 2011. Opposition to the scheme came from the socialist party, notably Paris senator Bariza Khiari, who argued that jobs would be lost in Magny-Cours. There is also opposition to the project from environmentalists. These arguments have limited credibility because the new circuit would be built next to the vast Renault production plant at Flins, which has been in operation since 1952. The land on which the circuit would be built is currently agricultural land.