Green light turns red for French GP? UPDATE #5 French authorities on Thursday announced they had selected in principle which circuit would host future French Grands Prix, a year after Magny Cours was dropped from the race calendar. Pierre Bedier, chairman of the departmental council of the Yvelines region west of Paris, unveiled the project of Parisian architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, whose 4.5km-long, 95-hectare site at Flins-Les Mureaux some 40 km north west of the capital will have seating capacity for a 120,000 crowd. An onsite conference centre for year-round use will also add to the attraction at the 112-million-euro (144-million-dollar) development.
Those behind the new circuit say it will be technically challenging and conceived as to allow easy overtaking. Wilmotte has been hard at work on the concept in tandem with Clive Bowen of British circuit designer Apex.
"All of the 18 jury members voted for this project," said Bedier. "This dossier has the virtue of improving a site which is currently lying fallow and not being properly utilized."
Bedier saluted what he termed "an idea which constitutes durable development". AFP01/29/09 There have been stories in the last 24 hours about the French Assemblee Nationale voting against the idea of a French Grand Prix in the Yvelines. This appears to be a misinterpretation of the amendment in question which is a technical step designed to save time and make the project easier, but does not cast any doubt at all on the project itself.
There is some opposition to the plan from some local residents and some ecologists have expressed worries about the project but the promoters of the idea say they will deal with all the complaints to try to ensure that the plan is supported by the maximum number of people. Grandprix.com
01/29/09 (GMM) The French parliament has scrapped the senate's earlier approval of a formula one circuit project near Paris.
It was reported this week that obstacles to a French grand prix in 2011 at Flins-sur-Seine, in the department of Yvelines, had been swept away by a government bill amendment.
But although initially approved with prime minister Francois Fillon's support on the grounds of economic stimulus, the project was also greatly opposed, including by the political opposition and environmentalists.
|Map showing location of proposed circuit|
Members of a joint committee therefore could not reach a compromise between the two chambers, and nullified the senate amendment.
Senator Bariza Khiari said the amendment was "at the expense of Magny-Cours and 400 jobs in Nievre (Nevers)", while environmentalists had argued that the circuit would have been built on important farming land 40 minutes from Paris.
Another government sitting was scheduled to discuss the issue further on Thursday, reports in France said.01/27/09 (GMM) The French Senate has approved a bill amendment giving permission for the construction of a formula one circuit near Paris, the sports daily L'Equipe said.
The move, initiated by a group of four senators, is designed to fast-track preparations and overcome bureaucratic obstacles for a French grand prix in 2011 at Flins-sur-Seine, in the department of Yvelines, about a forty minute drive from the French capital.
France, although an historic home of grand prix racing, will not feature on the 2009 or 2010 calendars following the demise of the Magny-Cours event as well as the alternate project at Disneyland Paris.
"If the construction and organization is conducted in a timely manner, it is possible that a grand prix can be held in France from 2011," the senators said.
They argued successfully that returning to the F1 calendar should be part of France's recovery from the economic situation.
Still pending is a major financial sponsor for the project, and the approval of F1's Bernie Ecclestone and the governing FIA, L'Equipe pointed out.
It is also suggested that while supported by prime minister Francois Fillon, the project is opposed by many individuals and local stakeholders, who staged a protest last weekend.
Pierre Bedier, president du conseil of Yvelines, however, has already established a support committee for the project, entitled 'Yvelines F1 -- La vallee de l'automobile' (Valley Automobile).01/25/09 Added map below showing circuit location. And this PDF (in French) gives you more info on the planned new facility. Google Map Location
|Adjacent Renault factory
||A13 and A 14 Motorways
01/24/09 The French senatorial majority has on Friday adopted a plan for the authorization of a Formula 1 circuit in the Paris region, in Yvelines. It was agreed as part of the plan to relaunch the economy out of the current financial crisis.Whereas a favorable exit seemed difficult to consider a few weeks ago, the senators have just adopted an amendment authorizing the behavior of a Grand Prix in Yvelines. The UMP amendment makes it possible to use a fast procedure to exploit a F1 circuit.
“The continuation of a Grand Prix of F1 in France is a national stake. If the construction and the delegation of management of this equipment are carried out within a short time, it is possible that a Grand Prix can again be held in France as from 2011” put forward the first four signatories of the amendment in their explanatory memorandum, Bruno Gilles and Sophie Joissins (both of the Rhone delta), Michel Bécot (Two-Sevres), Eric Doligé (Loiret). zzzz
The Minister for the revival Patrick Devedjian said to very much favor the proposal. “The Prime Minister follows this business with much interest, he added.
The opposition was obviously less happy with the decision. Bariza Khiari of the PS claimed the new circuit will come at the expense of more than 400 jobs at Magny-Cours, but chances are likely that this would have happened anyway if F1 finally decided not to go there any more.
“It is the lobby of the automobile Federation” which acts for this harmful amendment “for the environment, without economic interest for the community but well in the financial interest of some private interests”, increased Jean Desessard (Greens). Corinne Lepage, president de Cap21, regretted in an official statement “that the weight of the lobbies disorder the judgment of the elected officials at the point to make them make completely stupid and unsuited decisions”.
The department of Yvelines, chaired by the deputy UMP Pierre Bedier, signed in as a candidate for the organization of the French Grand Prix in 2011. The project, named “Yvelines F1 - the valley of the car” has already met sharp opposition, particularly from conservationists. They have argued that it is not in accordance with the spirit of Grenelle of the environment.
This amendment with the law of “acceleration of the investment and construction schedules”, will still have to be confirmed by the CMP (Joint industrial commission, Senate-Assembly).