The Canadian Grand Prix has been treading on thin ice for a little over a month now after the event was unceremoniously dropped from the proposed 2009 calendar without warning and at the time, little explanation. Since then, government and circuit officials from Canada have held talks with Bernie Ecclestone in the hope the race can be reinstated. Unfortunately, it seems these discussions have been all but fruitless as an announcement yesterday evening put paid to rest the speculation.
According to Ecclestone, the Canadian Grand Prix have defaulted on payments to host the race and this has led to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve being axed. However, after a quick rebuttal from the track authorities, the Quebec government offered to step in and help, stating that the race is important not just for the teams, but also for the economy in Montreal. Sadly, a statement yesterday said race was unlikely to return due to high demands placed on them by Ecclestone.
We were constantly guided in our negotiations by principles of responsible management. However, despite our endeavours and those of the business community, the unreasonable demands of Formula One exceeded the taxpayer’s ability to pay.
I would like to thank my colleagues from the federal and provincial governments and members of the business community who joined forces in an attempt to save the grand prix.
Their concerted efforts attest to Montreal’s vitality and could prove an opportunity for creating a development fund for new events of all kinds that would stimulate the economy, tourism and employment. Gerald Tremblay, Mayor of Montreal.
We worked very hard over the past few weeks to ensure there would be a grand prix in Montreal, while staying fiscally responsible. We cannot meet Mr. Ecclestone’s unworkable demands.
Unless he eases his requirements and adopts a different approach, there will be no grand prix in Montreal in 2009. Raymond Bachand, Minister of Tourism.
It is suggested on Autosport that the fees Ecclestone demanded were in the region of $26m for 2009, increasing by 5% per subsequent year after that. Ecclestone demanded a guarantee from either the government or a bank for $143m for the next five years, but this was too much for the city and the circuit to take on.
So it seems that Formula One will not race on the North American continent in 2009, the US Grand Prix having failed to re-materialise and no other venue stepping forward with a solid plan to host a race. This only adds to the anguish for the car manufacturers involved in the sport, having enjoyed some great advertising in previous years to customers residing in one of the biggest automotive markets on the planet.