New media reports have contradicted claims French PM Francois Fillon will on Friday announce the country’s 2013 return to the F1 calendar.
Le Parisien newspaper on Thursday said Fillon’s visit to the Paul Ricard circuit on Friday is to confirm the successful end to long negotiations to revive the French grand prix. Those negotiations were for Paul Ricard to annually alternate a race date with Belgium’s fabled Spa Francorchamps. But the French-language RMC insists that Belgium is “not ready for the alternation”.
“If France has received a contract to organise a grand prix every other year, this is not the case for the Belgian promoters, who are still waiting for the document to send to the government of Wallonia,” the report read.
RMC said the hold-up could be because Spa is having trouble paying its sanctioning fee for this year’s race date in September. The French magazine Sport-Auto agrees, insisting that Fillon “will not announce the return of the grand prix de France on Friday”.
“The prime minister will travel to the (Paul Ricard) circuit,” an official close to Fillon is quoted as saying by AFP news agency, but Fillon “will not announce the return of the grand prix to the calendar in 2013”.
The official, however, said Bernie Ecclestone as approved “in principle” France’s presence on the calendar every other year, beginning in 2013.
But “It (the alternation) will not necessarily be with Belgium,” the report added.
In an interview to be published by the Nice-Matin newspaper on Friday, Fillon is quoted as saying a grand prix is crucial to France.
“Bernie Ecclestone has just sent us a draft contract,” said the prime minister, “which is the result of negotiations that began several months ago. We now have a concrete basis for discussions.”