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APRIL 23, 2007

Good news for the French motor racing industry

Nicolas Sarkozy's victory in the first round of the French presidential election, could be good news for France's struggling racing industry as Sarkozy has promised to relax labour laws, lower taxes on business and encourage a more entrepreneurial culture. Sarkozy won 30% of the vote in the first round of the election beating socialist Segolene Royal (25%) and centre-right politician Francois Bayrou (18%). The turn-out in the election was one of the highest ever with nearly 80% of the electorate casting a vote, evidence that there is a feeling that there needs to be change in the country.

The second round of the election - a run-off between Sarkozy and Royale - will take place in 14 days.

A more flexible labour market, including a relaxation of the 35-hour week should open the way for new French racing entrepreneurs to set up their businesses and be competitive with similar firms in other countries.

French motor racing has struggled badly under Presidents Francois Mitterand and Jacques Chirac. The last French F1 team (if one accepts that Renault F1 is fundamentally an English team owned by the French) was Prost Grand Prix, which closed its doors at the start of 2002, leaving debts of around $30m.

This followed similar failures of Larrousse and AGS and the collapse of projects such as those proposed by DAMS and others.

The collapse of the industry has led to reduced interest from sponsors and the wave of French drivers and aerodynamicists has gradually petered out in recent years.

Renault's F1 success has done little to change that.