DECEMBER 6, 2016
Minister learned of France GP deal on TV
Sports minister Thierry Braillard says he learned about the return of the French grand prix via the media.
Former professional motorcycle racer turned politician Christian Estrosi, now president of the regional council of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, announced on Monday that after a ten year absence, France will return to the calendar in 2018 with a race at Paul Ricard.
But sports minister Braillard told the broadcaster BFMTV that he learned about the news by watching news reports on television.
"I am happy," he said, "but those responsible could at least have had the style to notify the competent minister.
"I knew that a project was being considered in Magny Cours and the rates charged by Bernie Ecclestone, but I cannot comment on information that I have seen only in the media."
Reports said the Paul Ricard race will enjoy the benefits of government grants, but Braillard said revealing the origin of the 2018 race's funding is "undoubtedly not the priority of the people behind this".
"As we were told when everything was signed, the state will be a spectator, but an attentive spectator," he added.
The L'Equipe sports daily said the Paul Ricard deal was agreed during a meeting last month in Geneva, attended by Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt.
Estrosi said: "The grand prix will take place from the summer of 2018, and the agreement is for five years with a price confirming with the European races."
Le Point, meanwhile, quoted FIA president Todt as saying France's return is "great news".
"F1 cannot cut itself off from its roots and history," said the Frenchman.