Bernie looking to bring F1 back to Montreal, USA?

UPDATE #9 (GMM) Canadian government officials are on the verge of making an offer to Bernie Ecclestone with a view to reinstating Montreal's formula one race in 2010.

Lewis Hamilton in Montreal last year

The demise of the popular event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was doubly controversial, given the fact that a crucial market for F1 sponsors and manufacturers, North America, is now not at all represented on the calendar.

It is suggested that team bosses have scheduled a forthcoming meeting with Ecclestone, the sport's chief executive, with a view to airing some of their concerns about the direction of the annual calendar.

The reports coincide with news that all three levels of Canadian government are set to offer to pay a $15m annual fee for the next five Canadian grands prix, beginning next season.

The English language Montreal radio station CJAD said the quoted figure is less than half the figure most recently requested by Ecclestone, but noted the pressure on the diminutive Briton being exerted by the F1 manufacturers.

The situation is far more complicated with regards to the United States' missing spot on the calendar, with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last hosting a grand prix in 2007.

The fabled oval's departing president Joie Chitwood told Autoweek this week that he had not thought about bringing F1 back to Indianapolis "in a long time".

07/06/09 (GMM) Moves to reinstate a Canadian grand prix on the F1 calendar are progressing, according to the French-language newspaper La Presse.

A report said Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay has approved the spending of city funds on key improvements, to be overseen by Normand Legault, to the pit area of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

It is believed the move may be part of a deal to see Canada return to the formula one calendar as soon as mid 2010.

06/19/09 Negotiations are underway with Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone for a potential return of the popular Canadian Grand Prix to Montreal in 2010, Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand confirmed Thursday.

"You saw how many people were in Istanbul this month – 30,000 people.

"We get 300,000 for the entire weekend," Bachand said.

Bachand told reporters that 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 finance minister says he's confident but added that F1 has its own financial problems that need to be resolved.

"Everything is not settled. We have discussions that are still going on with Mr. Ecclestone. Until things are signed, they are not finalized," Bachand said.

"I'm confident we'll have the F1 back in Montreal next year," Bachand said.

06/18/09 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone this week met in London with a potential promoter for a revived Canadian grand prix.

We reported on Thursday that talks to restore the event are taking place, and it now emerges that F1's chief executive met with Francois Dumontier about once again promoting a Montreal race.

Dumontier, head of the Stock-Car Montreal company, was involved in the most recent Canadian grands prix, until the deal with Ecclestone broke down after last year's race.

Canada's CBC News reports that Dumontier and Ecclestone did not sign a new contract on Tuesday, but their talks were about a race revival as soon as 2010.

A decision is expected next Wednesday.

06/18/09 (GMM) Negotiations to revive the axed Canadian grand prix are still taking place, according to reports in the country.

Normand Legault, the former promoter of the popular Montreal race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, told the national news agency CP that there is a "good chance" the event will return in 2010.

The report said the city's mayor Gerald Tremblay has been consistently in talks with Bernie Ecclestone ever since the deal with the F1 chief executive broke down.

The negotiations also involve the local government, which is reportedly pledging $10 million over five years if the Canadian grand prix is restored.

The reports also said the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve would be a potential venue if major formula one teams split with Ecclestone and the FIA and form their own alternate series.

05/28/09 (GMM) The prospect of Indianapolis returning to stage a United States grand prix in future dwindled yet further this week.

Tony George, CEO of the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway that hosted the formula one race between 2000 and 2007, is on the verge of being ousted, American media reports claim.

George is credited with bringing F1 back to the US on a novel road course inside the fabled Indy 500 oval, and until recently was keen on penning a new race promotion deal with Bernie Ecclestone.

Contrary to reports, the 49-year-old survived a board meeting on Tuesday, but in a media statement it was pointed out that the venue's interests in the Indy Racing League series "deserves the most attention at this point".

Some commentators had questioned the company's finances amid the global recession and George's investments in other areas, including the road course, press tower and other facilities that were built for F1.

05/25/09 heard in the paddock this weekend during the Indy 500 that a F1 race could return to the famous Brickyard as early as next year, but we have heard those rumors before.

05/25/09 French Canadian newspaper La Presse reported on Monday that F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone invited a Montreal businessman and financier to London in order to explore the possibility of reinstating the Canadian Grand Prix next year.

The three meetings held so far took place in Ecclestone's London headquarters, and it appears that the businessman he is talking to – who prefers to remain anonymous at present – is not a representative of any level of the Canadian or Quebec governments, nor is he speaking for the city of Montreal.

The article indicates that the promise of a CDN $10 million annual participation from the federal and provincial governments still stands, leaving $25m to be obtained through revenues.

According to the newspaper, there is a strong possibility that Ecclestone could become the next Canadian Grand Prix promoter if local interests balk at the asking price once again.

In the context of the global economic situation, Ecclestone might accept to lower his demands in order to see Formula 1 return to the North American market, with car manufacturers and sponsors pressuring him to make it work.

The grandstands of the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit hardly ever failed to sell out, contrary to other venues seen at other destinations.

However, in view of the current talks between the teams and the FIA regarding the future regulations of Formula 1, the fact remains that Grand Prix promoters do not entirely know yet what they are signing up for. La Presse

04/16/09 (GMM) Francois Dumontier has applied the brakes to speculation that Montreal is poised to soon return to the formula one calendar.

Bernie Ecclestone and other figures, including Quebec government official Raymond Bachand and Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay, have in recent days been quoted as revealing talks to reinstate the axed Canadian race.

But it is Dumontier, as head of the organizing company, who would be most directly in charge of the event.

He is quoted by the French language La Presse newspaper as revealing that discussions to return F1 action to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve may not be as advanced as has been reported.

"I took note at the end of last week of the interview with Bernie Ecclestone, but besides that, I do not know any more for the moment," said Dumontier.

The F1 chief executive had been quoted as saying both himself and the Quebec government are "interested" in restoring the Canadian grand prix.

"At the time that he spoke, there was no communication on this subject — neither with myself nor with (promoter) Stock-Car Montreal.

"If ever something was to happen," Dumontier continued, "it is certain that it would be necessary that we are involved."

04/15/09 (GMM) With the world in recession, the pendulum may have swung back in favor of a Canadian grand prix.

Bernie Ecclestone and the Montreal organizers fell out over a financial dispute, resulting in the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – or any other venue in North America – not featuring on the 2009 calendar.

But Raymond Bachand, the relevant minister of the regional Quebec government, confirmed to local CJAD radio that discussions with the F1 chief executive are back on.

"There's many countries that cannot hold a grand prix today that were targeted by the grand prix (authorities)," he is quoted as saying.

Bachand also acknowledged that influential F1 figures are desperate for the sport to return to the American continent.

Asked about Ecclestone's similar desire, he said: "He called us back, he brought back a proposal, we commented, he's rethinking."

Bachand said Montreal is minimally seeking a five-year deal at the "right price", but admitted that formula one is important to the government.

"We've lost money by not having a grand prix," he said.

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