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France out of F1 calendar

THERE does not seem to be a place for the French GP in the Formula 1 World Championship next season. Several versions of the 1998 Grand Prix calendar have been circulating in the paddock in recent races but none of them seem to include France, which has been having serious problems with the FIA in recent years over television rights and tobacco advertising. There is an additional problem next year in that if the race is held on its normal date at the end of June it will clash with the World Cup soccer competition. Already the Tour de France, the country's world-famous bicycle race, has had to be moved to avoid clashing with the World Cup. The date clash will also be useful for F1 bosses who have been planning for some time to make an example of one of the major European F1 races to indicate to governments that it is willing to axe traditional events if tobacco bans increase. The French have the tightest of all the tobacco bans in Europe.

The rumored calendar in Austria was as follows (a total of 17 races):

Australia (Melbourne) March 08

Brazil (Interlagos) March 29

Argentina (Buenos Aires) April 12

San Marino (Imola) April 26

Spain (Barcelona) May 10

Monaco May 24

Canada (Montreal) June 07

Luxembourg (Nurburgring) June 28

Great Britain (Silverstone) July 12

Austria (A1 Ring) July 26

Germany (Hockenheim) August 02

Hungary (Budapest) August 16

Belgium (Spa) August 30

Italy (Monza) September 13

Portugal (Estoril) September 27

Korea (Sepoong) October 18

Japan (Suzuka) November 01

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