Honda F1 website

APRIL 8, 2004

Mobil to sponsor French Grand Prix

Jacques Regis, president of the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile (FFSA) has announced that the French Grand Prix will be sponsored this year by Mobil 1 although he says that his organisation, which has taken over the running of the event is not going to get any of the money, because the income from title sponsorships goes to Paddy McNally's Allsport Management in Geneva.

Regis says that the funding of the race is going to be tough this year but says that the aim of the FFSA is to make a profit by putting on a better show for the spectators and by changing attitudes in the F1 world to Magny-Cours. The FFSA has adopted a strategy of lowering ticket prices in the hope that more people will attend the event.

"We are going to have new pricing with cheaper tickets to attract more fans," Regis said. "We are aiming for a crowd of between 50,000 and 55,000 on race day. We will have Formula 1, Formula 3000, the Porsche Supercup, the Formula 3 Eurocup and two races for historic Grand Prix cars from the 1950s. And between the races we will have a lot of events, promotions and demonstrations. The strategy is to give the spectators a better show."

The FFSA took over the promotion of the event after the previous promoter pulled out last winter. Regis has now put together a completely new team of 25 people to organise the event and get people to change their minds about Magny-Cours.

"We must change the image of Magny-Cours with the press and with the teams," Regis said.

As part of the plan there will be a big event this year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Formula One Constructors Association with team bosses and drivers from past and present gathering for the party. "We cannot do it all in 2004 but we hope to have a successful event and do more in 2005."

Regis said that the current financial arrangements in Formula 1 make it very hard for a promoter to hold a successful race, particularly if there is no help from the government. The FFSA has landed around $4m of support from the event from the local and regional governments but there is nothing from the French state itself, indeed Regis says that the event has to pay out around 800,000 Euro in direct taxes and more in local taxation.

"The government could help," said Regis, "but they don't want to put money into Formula 1 because it is seen as a rich sport. There is support for us from the Ministry of Sport but here is no cash. We do have regional support but the government does back other sports such as the America's Cup and athletics."

The French government was heavily involved in the Areva challenge for the last America's Cup, the state-controlled nuclear industry holding company spending around $20m on the programme.