NOVEMBER 27, 2007

Saving the French GP

Bernard Laporte, formerly the head coach of the French national rugby team, has been France's Secretary of State for Sports for about a month now and one of the dossiers he is concentrating on is the future of the French Grand Prix. He has told the French sports newspaper L'Equipe that the race is "like the Tour de France and Roland Garros" and "belongs to the French people".

Laporte says that Magny-Cours is a problem because of access and insufficient hotels and says that there are plans to improve this but at the same time says that other projects are being discussed.

"We do not know yet what is the best option," he said. "Letâ„¢s just do what it takes to save the French GP. Today there are competitors who are knocking on the door of the championship. (Bernie) Ecclestone is free to do what he wants. If he says tomorrow that we do not have what is necessary, tears will flow."

Laporte says that he does not want France to lose out as it did with the 2012 Olympic Games. He said that Prime Minister Francois Fillon has had discussions on the subject with Bernie over the telephone and that the problem is not for 2008 but rather 2009 and beyond.

Laporte says that the state will support the best proposals put forward and is now waiting for those proposals to be put forward by interested parties in France. One of these is sure to be the FFSA, the French motorsport federation which currently promotes the French GP but there is no reason why the plan cannot involved private enterprise.