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JUNE 11, 2002

French election gives hope for French racers

THE first round of the French parliamentary elections last weekend could be a big boost for motor racing in France. Under the previous governments motor racing companies became increasingly difficult to fund because of the countries extraordinary social charges and because of the additional costs of working with a 35-hour week. This meant that a French team would need to employ more people than its British or Italian counterpart and so had to find more money to compete.

The election has seen a strong showing from Jacques Chirac's republicans and it looks like resulting in a solid conservative majority after the second round of voting next weekend. If that happens Chirac will be freed from the difficult situation of being a republican president trying to work with a socialist parliament. And that means that some of the laws introduced in recent years by the socialists can be changed. Chirac says that he intends to have a look at the way in which the social charges operate and wants to revise the rules about the 35-hour week. Chirac is also promising to slash taxes in order to get the French economy moving again.

In the course of the last three years all three of France's top single-seater teams have gone out of business because of economic problems: Prost Grand Prix, DAMS and the Prost F3000 team (formerly known as Apomatox). The new law could allow a new generation of French team owners to try their hand on the international scene.