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OCTOBER 21, 2003

Canada needs cash by October 31

The Canadian Grand Prix has until the end of the month to come up with a financial package necessary to keep the race on the Formula 1 calendar.

Race promoter Normand Legault has to find money to convince the Formula 1 teams to return to Canada without tobacco backing but the team's are demanding $2m apiece to expand the calendar to 18 races. The FIA has put the race back on its provisional calendar for 2004 but that is subject to the money being found and an agreement being struck between the teams and Legault.

There were suggestions at the weekend that the involvement of the Molson brewery in an attempt to save the race had resulted in the price being hiked but Legault says that getting Molson involved helped to get the race put back on the calendar and will make it easier to find the extra cash needed by "the end of October deadline".

All the teams must agree to return to Canada and thus it is safe to assume that all the teams want an extra $2m. This means that Legault has to find $20m in addition to whatever deal he had worked out with Formula One Management. The normal fees for an F1 race are around $15m a year although some races are paying as much as $40m next year. Bernie Ecclestone, the boss of FOM, is keen to have Canada on the calendar but it is unlikely that he will settle for less than $10m, giving Legault a target of $30m to find.

Legault and Molson issued a joint statement on Monday saying that they are working together to save the race.

"Several solutions are being explored concerning the funding of the event," the statement said. "Current discussions do not include a change of ownership as a condition for staging the Formula 1 race."

Molson boss Dan O'Neill said that Molson is happy to work with Legault.

"Our objective is to have the Grand Prix return to Montreal next year and for the years to come," he said. "We intend to go on working with Normand Legault as owner and head of the Montreal Grand Prix to achieve this objective."