FEBRUARY 3, 2023
Huge debt clouds French GP future
Hopes that France's new absence from the Formula 1 calendar may be short-lived appear to have been dashed.
Var Matin, a French daily, has published sections of a confidential letter that was sent to Christian Estrosi - promoter of the newly-defunct French GP at Paul Ricard.
The author of the letter is Jean-Louis Masson, who is president of the local departmental council of Var.
Var-Matin said Masson expresses concerns about a EUR 27 million debt left behind by the French GP's public interest group.
Just as French F1 legend Jean Alesi becomes the new president of the Paul Ricard circuit, Masson said he had noted "many serious irregularities" in the promoter's expenses over the last six years.
"As long as we do not know the merits of the expenses, the contributions cannot be paid," said the Var president.
To date, only three contracts of the former French GP promoter remain valid - including its general director Eric Boullier, a former F1 team boss.
Boullier told Var-Matin that he was reluctant to "argue unnecessarily" but said many of the accusations are "excessive and wrong".
As for the claim that officials excessively charged the public interest group, the Frenchman insisted: "Formula 1 is a global sport with more than 22 events taking place around the world.
"This requires a certain number of trips in order to be able to organise the necessary meetings with the rights holders, sports federations, broadcasters and all the promoters in order to organise the French GP in the best conditions," Boullier said.