Mark Webber testing the Red Bull Racing car at Paul Ricard Circuit, 2007 (GEPA pictures/ Mathias Kniepeiss)
Early this week, Bernie Ecclestone announced a deal has been made to bring Formula 1 racing back to France’s Paul Ricard next year. The deal will also include 4 other grands prix in 2015, ’17, ’19, and ’21, but no details have yet been released regarding how France’s slot on the schedule will be filled every other year when it is not hosting. F1 has not held a grand prix in France since the 2008 race at the Magny Cours circuit in which Ferrari’s Felipe Massa claimed the top of the podium.
“The deal is done,” Eccelstone told French L’Equipe. “We actually agreed on financial terms with the sports minister, David Douillet, in my office last Tuesday.” Interestingly, the announcement comes not two weeks before France begins the second and final phase of the country’s presidential election, which could raise questions about whether the deal would stand if incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy is ousted by Socialist candidate Francois Hollande. Ecclestone seems confident however that a deal will be finalized regardless of the result of the election, possibly even before the May 6 election date.
France is the second circuit to be added to the 2013 schedule that also is not on 2012. Last October New Jersey was announced as a brand new addition to F1, however new doubts are surfacing over when (or if) the street circuit along the banks of the Hudson River will take place. Only days after the France announcement, Eccelstone also stated “Maybe the [Grand Prix of America in New Jersey] will be 2013. It’s a when – 2013 or 2014.” The October announcement of adding the New Jersey race of course came with some controversy, with many speculating that it was going to replace Circuit of the Americas as the new site for the US Grand Prix.