Paul Ricard or Magny Cours to take NJ date w/Abu Dhabi investor?

UPDATE #5 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. There will be no French grand prix in 2013, according to the sports daily L'Equipe.

There had been moves afoot to revive the country's defunct grand prix, at either Paul Ricard or Magny Cours.

But L'Equipe said the French sanctioning body FFSA had not, by Tuesday's deadline, received a request to apply to be added to the FIA's 2013 schedule.

The deadline was in place ahead of the forthcoming World Motor Sport Council meeting in early December, which is the last chance to make changes to the provisional 2013 race calendar.

11/06/12 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has named Magny Cours as the likely venue for a 2013 French grand prix.

Quadruple world champion Alain Prost was in Abu Dhabi last weekend for talks with the F1 chief executive about Paul Ricard's race bid, and potential investors.

But Ecclestone is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "If we go to France (next year), it will be Magny Cours."

The country has been missing from the F1 calendar since Magny Cours, located in rural France some 250 kilometers from Paris, last hosted the sport in 2008.

With three French drivers now on the grid, Ecclestone and France are contemplating the race's revival, after the 2013 calendar shrank from 20 to 19 races due to the problems in New Jersey.

Paul Ricard was until now considered the obvious favorite, partly due to the Le Castellet venue's links to Ecclestone.

But Ecclestone insisted Paul Ricard is not owned by him but is merely part of his family trust called Bambino, which is "nothing to do with me".

"If we go to France, it will be Magny Cours," he added.

The 82-year-old Briton goes so far as to admit a potential date is lined up — 23 June, the week before Silverstone.

"That would make sense, wouldn't it?" said Ecclestone.

New Jersey was set to take place next June 16, the week after Canada, but the race's delay has now caused a theoretical three-week gap between Canada and Britain.

11/04/12 (GMM) Alain Prost has warned there is no guarantee France will return to the F1 calendar in 2013.

The four-time world champion has agreed to join Paul Ricard's race bid as an advisor, and was promptly dispatched to Abu Dhabi reportedly for talks with Bernie Ecclestone and possibly also a meeting with potential local investors.

According to Auto Hebdo publication, however, the famous 57-year-old Frenchman is not very optimistic.

Earlier, Prost was heavily involved in failed attempts to revive the defunct French grand prix at Disneyland Paris, or a new circuit in Flins-sur-Seine.

Now in Abu Dhabi, he said on Saturday: "I was out of the case because it was too complicated, too politicized.

"Then I went to the world series (race) at Le Castellet and was asked the question.

"I said what I thought at the moment, that things could not be done without a minimum of public money.

"But as I was coming to Abu Dhabi in my role as Renault ambassador which had been planned for six months, I said that I would look at some aspects of this case."

While hopeful, Prost is realistic about Paul Ricard's chances.

"The weak point is the lack of funds, even though they are in talks with several potential partners," he said.

"The budget is far from being completed," said Prost.

"It will not be resolved in the meeting today, but it can be done in a couple of days, or not at all."

Paul Ricard

11/02/12 (GMM) Arab investors could be the key to France's return to formula one, according to L'Equipe.

The sports daily said Alain Prost and Philippe Gurdjian, representing the Paul Ricard circuit, have travelled to Abu Dhabi this weekend.

It was believed they would simply have talks with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

But L'Equipe reports that there is a chance investors from Abu Dhabi, and possibly even Bahrain, are interested in getting behind Paul Ricard's 2013 grand prix bid.

10/28/12 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone on Sunday admitted it is possible France will return to the F1 calendar in 2013.

With New York falling off next year's schedule, reports in France this week quoted Paul Ricard chief Stephane Clair as predicting a "90 per cent" chance the circuit will step into the gap on the 20-race schedule.

"We are ready to sign," F1 chief executive Ecclestone told reporters as he cut a cake for his 82nd birthday in the Buddh paddock.

"Which circuit they are going to use is one thing (to resolve), and who is going to pay for it. That's the bottom line."

Meanwhile, Ecclestone scoffed in typical fashion at suggestions the FIA's new 'formula E' championship for electric cars could one day rival F1.

The diminutive Briton said that claim is "stupid".

"I think those sort of things are lawn-mowers," he is quoted by PTI news agency.

10/25/12 Paul Ricard Circuit Dir Stephane Clair revealed that a France F1 Grand Prix in '13 has "a 90% chance" of taking place, according to Matthieu Lauraux of The possible withdrawal of the New Jersey race and new private investments could help F1 "return to France next year."

Clair revealed that the track in Castellet is currently following two leads to finance the organization of a Grand Prix and the "small construction work that needs to be done." The first lead involves "an int'l sports promoter," and the second "private int'l investors." The current uncertainty regarding the New Jersey F1 race "gives an opportunity for June."

However, Clair said, "This would cut our preparation down by two months, and on top of this the track is already reserved for the month of June." He said that the best date would be "the first weekend of September before the Italian Grand Prix".

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