The French motor sport federation (FFSA) have announced today that they will not be holding a French Grand Prix in 2009. Although the race has come under almost continuous scrutiny for the last few years, Bernie Ecclestone had announced earlier this year that the current contract Magny Cours has will be honoured. However, citing economic issues, the FFSA have pulled the plug early and consider their options for the future.
As Grandprix.com report, the FFSA have stated that if they were to hold a French Grand Prix next season, they would be making a financial loss. The current contract – which has Magny Cours down as the circuit – also has a annual 10% increase in fees payable to FOM. With the current global economic problems, the FFSA have decided it would be better to drop the 2009 event, but come back in 2010 with a more sustainable funding arrangement at a venue that suits the needs of modern Formula One and Bernie Ecclestone.
With the recent exclusion of Canada from the calendar, the 2009 season is starting to look a little thin. Without France, the schedule will only include seventeen races; 2008 had eighteen, including two new venues. 2009 will see Abu Dhabi join the circus as well, but the dropping of some of the more traditional events only allows Ecclestone to add in new circuits in emerging economies (India being a prime example), thus changing the face of Formula One considerably.
I believe part of the reason for dropping Circuit Gilles Villeneuve from the calendar was to allow the teams their now-traditional three-week break mid-season. Previously, it had been suggested the break would be dropped in favour of having up to twenty races per season, but many team bosses complained that their employees would burn-out very quickly. Ron Dennis stated that should the break get cancelled, he would have to rotate his race-team staff to allow them a chance to recuperate away from the races. A suggestion that of course, flies in the face of Max Mosley’s cost-cutting plans.
However, losing Magny Cours from the calendar surely means that with a little re-jigging, there would be enough space to squeeze Canada back in and still give the teams their vacation time. Of course, if Canada Grand Prix officials are experiencing their own financial issues, then this may not happen, but with the teams so upset about losing the last remaining race in North America, maybe they should be stepping up to the plate with some funding in order to save the event.