FEBRUARY 12, 1996
More on Paul Ricard
THE recent decision by the FFSA, the French national motor sporting federation, to nominate Paul Ricard to host the French Grand Prix between 1997 and 2000 may not be as clear-cut as originally imagined.
It seems that Magny-Cours received so few votes from the FFSA committee because its representatives told the committee that there was little point in examining the three dossiers (Magny-Cours, Paul Ricard and Le Mans) because Magny-Cours already had a deal with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. The result was a strong vote in favor of Paul Ricard to show that the FFSA has the power to choose the venue for the race, and that Ecclestone's commercial power is not paramount.
Paul Ricard has to prove by the end of this month that it has the money necessary to do all the improvement work needed at the track to meet F1 standards.
If this is the case, Ecclestone will probably be happy to accept the change as Magny-Cours was never a popular venue with the race teams, and the only reason that F1 went there was because of the money made available by the French government at the time.
There is a small possibility that a power struggle might develop over the race, in which case one has to consider the possibility of there not being a French Grand Prix in 1997, and Magny-Cours hosting a European GP instead.