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FEBRUARY 16, 1998

France waits for Grand Prix decision

FRENCH motor racing is waiting to see whether there will be a Grand Prix in France this year as the French government debates a new law which will clear away the problems over television coverage which have plagued the race for severalÊyears.

The French National Assembly last week voted in favour of a new law to be adopted which will allow sports federations to sell exclusive rights to the televising of an event to a single broadcaster, but only as long as other TV companies are allowed access to the event. According to the new law, however, they will not be allowed to film the event itself.

The law must now go to the French upper house - the Senate. This will take place on Tuesday, February 24 and if the bill is approved by the Senate it must then pass through the National Assembly one final time - on February 25 - before the law comes into force. As soon as that happens the FIA is expected to agree for the French GP to be reinstated in the F1 calendar on June 28. Last week there were rumors circulating in France that suggested that the problems relating to the fact that June 28 date clashes with the soccer World Cup may lead to the event being rescheduled for October 11, to replace the cancelled Portuguese Grand Prix.

This would leave a gap of a month between the Canadian GP on June 7 and the British GP on July 12. One suggestion we have heard is that the South African GP could be slotted into this period although June is winter time in South Africa and the weather could not be guaranteed to be good. It would however be rather similar to a Spanish winter and F1 teams are happy to operate in such conditions. The only problem with this idea is whether or not the logistical side of the operation could be handled with the whole circus having to be moved from Canada to South Africa within 10 days.