DECEMBER 15, 2008

Clear favourite emerges for French GP venue in 2011

Public documents which have come to light in France give more details of the plans to build a Formula 1 circuit in the Seine Valley. The project at Flins, close to one of the major Renault factories, has the support of Prime Minister Francois Fillon. Tenders for the design and constuction have been requested and a decision is due to be made in March or April next year. Construction is planned to begin in April 2010 and the circuit should be finished in March 2011, in time for a Grand Prix later that summer.

The plan is for a 235-acre site between the Seine river and the main Paris-Le Havre railway line. At the moment this is farmland but the property, called La Ferme La Haye, has been acquired by the authorities. The site is located 28 miles to the west of Paris and is within half a mile of the main A13 motorway from Paris to Rouen. The SNCF is rumoured to be studying the possibilities of putting a new station next to the race track. The journey at the moment from the nearby station at Les Mureaux to the Gare St Lazare in Paris is 37 minutes, but this would be reduced if trains did not stop en route. The project is the brainchild of Pierre Bedier, the president of the Conseil General of the Yvelines departement, who believes that a circuit will create jobs and economic growth in the area.

There is opposition from the communes on the northern side of the river where the town of Mezy would be affected by the noise of an F1 circuit and would not gain any advantage as it is inaccessible from the southern side of the Seine. The authorities say that any new circuit would have to have a high ecological standards.