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DATE News (chronologically)
06/21/09
f1
Montreal wants F1 turmoil fixed first
Montreal's mayor says Formula One needs to resolve its own legal woes before any deal is signed to bring back the Canadian Grand Prix.

But news that Formula One's governing body, FIA, is suing eight teams that have threatened to split and create a rival series hasn't stopped the discussions aimed at returning the race to Canada.

"It's important to us that the Grand Prix returns to Montreal and we'll see how it goes in the coming weeks and the coming months," Mayor Gerald Tremblay said Friday. "They'll solve their problems, but when we sign a contract with someone, we want to ensure that they are in control of the situation." Anne-Sophie Desmeules , a spokeswoman for Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand, echoed those sentiments.

Tremblay said F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone called him in December to discuss a possible return of the race.

"Ecclestone phoned me and said we want to meet with you because we want to come back to Montreal," the mayor said.

Since then, talks have been ongoing with an eye on bringing the race back in 2010.

Tremblay said the tables have turned somewhat now that F1 is seeking out Montreal, in part because there is pressure from the manufacturers to have a North American presence. Montreal was F1's only North American stop in 2008.

Tremblay said he's being prudent about the discussions and is also monitoring the growing rift between F1 and the teams over a budget cap for next season.

BMW-Sauber, Brawn GP, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull Racing, Renault, Toro Rosso and Toyota have all threatened to bow out. Those teams include star drivers such as McLaren's reigning world champion, Lewis Hamilton, current championship leader Jenson Button of Brawn and Ferrari duo Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen Tremblay said it is important those teams are part of any future Montreal race.

"There's a lot of things happening in the Formula One world presently and we have to have strong commitments about the teams that are going to be here and the drivers that are going to be here," Tremblay said.

The Canadian event was dropped in favour of a new race in Abu Dhabi, despite Montreal being one of the better-attended events, with nearly 300,000 spectators for the entire weekend.

Istanbul took Montreal's spot on the circuit this year but this month's race in Turkey was hurt by poor attendance.

On Thursday, Bachand told reporters the federal and provincial governments are ready to kick in $5 million in financing while the City of Montreal is offering up another $5 million from a hotel tax to get the race back to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The Canadian Grand Prix and French GP were dropped this season after organizers failed to meet Ecclestone's money demands. In Montreal's case, the amount was reported to be nearly $175 million over five years and was deemed too rich for Montreal organizers.

Tremblay said additional money is not on the table and that Ecclestone understands the financial situation.

Tremblay said his focus is on the estimated $100 million per year in revenues and economic spinoffs to the city, but also on the international exposure such an event provides. TSN
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