OCTOBER 15, 2008

French Grand Prix cancelled!

The board of directors of the French motor sport federation have announced in Paris that they are not going to hold a French Grand Prix in 2009 because of economic problems. The FFSA has been promoting the event for some years but does not believe that it is possible to hold the race in 2009 without making a financial loss and as the club does not have huge financial resources it is not possible to take that risk.

The committee of the FFSA said that it has received six applications for the race in 2010. These are the project at Flins in the Seine Valley; Magny-Cours, a project at Gonesse (close to Le Bourget airport), Disneyland Paris, Sarcelles and a little-known project on land close to Disneyland which is called Paris Motorspace and has funding from the financier Benjamin de Rothschild. This would be a complete autodrome with a permanent race track and various racing schools and so on.

In recent years the French GP has struggled each year with a 10% increase in the fees it has to pay to the Formula One group. The FFSA has now decided that it is impossible given the current economic climate to make the race profitable and so has concluded that it is better to drop out for a year and then bring the race back with suitable funding in the longterm. The FFSA would not longer be the promoter but would remain the sanctioning body.

There have been rumours for some time that European races are feeling the financial heat the moment and it is possible that we may see others drop out as well. With Canada gone it is going to be hard to find a replacement at this late stage, unless the sport is willing to take less money from the promoters.

The French GP is the world's oldest surviving motor race, dating back to 1906. It was, in fact, the very first international event to be called a "Grand Prix". Since the end of World War II the race has been organised every year, with the exception of 1955 when it was scrapped in the wake of the Le Mans disaster in which around 100 people were killed when a car crashed into the crowd during the celebrated 24 Hour race.