The decision of the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile (FFSA) to cancel the 2009 French Grand Prix came as a surprise. At the same time however it was probably only a matter of time before someone came out cancelling a race. Rumours about some race organizers looking for a way out of 2009 calendar surfaced around the same time the Canadian GP was dropped. French GP did not feature on F1 calendar only 1 time, back in 1955, following the Le Mans events. There are several French regions and venues interested in staging the Formula 1 race (Disneyland being the front runner) but it looks dead certain now that there will be no Formula 1 race in France next year. What looked like 19 races season only 2 weeks ago is turning into 17 races one. Will FIA and FOM keep it at 17 or will they add another race in place of the French GP ?
Races in South Korea and India are planned from 2010 / 2011. It is very unlikely these 2 tracks could be ready a year or two earlier. Places like Russia or Mexico talk about F1 a lot, but not much happens there. So where (if anywhere) could F1 go next year instead of Magny Cours ?
An exciting new venue with F1 ambitions is about to be finished in Portugal near Algarve. They perhaps might be able to get the track ready for F1 race but would they do all the work if all they may end up with is one stand-in-for-France F1 race ?
There however are several tracks that are pretty much F1 ready and could step in – Hockenheim (the German race next year will be held at Nurburgring), revamped Imola (although I believe that track does not have the necessary certification for F1 racing at the moment) or Fuji Speedway (the Japanese GP will return to Suzuka next year).
The most natural choice however would be Montreal that as recently as 2 weeks ago was ready to host the Canadian GP on June 7, 2009. The track is there, the organizers were all set for next year, the only stumbling blocks were some “commercial issues” with Bernie Ecclestone. Some tweaks to the 2009 F1 calendar would be required to give the teams enough time to move to North America and back. But if there was a way to fit Canada into the 19 races calendar back in June, there sure must be a way to fit the Montreal F1 race into 18 races calendar now.
For some reason however I think that nothing is going to happen, Bernie will stick to his guns and all we will get instead of the 2009 French GP will be 3 weeks break between British and German GPs …
Photo: Renault / LAT