France vows to save grand prix

Tue, 27 November 2007, 02:23

France’s sports minister says he is working hard to ensure that the country does not lose its grand prix after 2008.

Magny-Cours, one of the least popular destinations among F1’s travelling regulars due to its isolated location and lack of accommodation, nearly dropped off the 2008 calendar as Bernie Ecclestone slammed the government for doing “nothing” to save the race.

But Bernard Laporte, a renowned sports fan and recently coach of the French national rugby union team, has told the sports daily L’Equipe that formula one is as important to France as the famous Tour de France and the tennis tournament at Roland Garros.

Reports earlier this year said Ecclestone was in favour of moving the French grand prix to a street circuit in central Paris.

“We do not know yet what is the best option,” Laporte said.

“Let’s just do what it takes to save the French grand prix.”

He acknowledged the risk that another host could take France’s place on the calendar, despite the fact that the country has hosted a grand prix every season since 1955.

“Ecclestone is free to do what he wants,” Laporte said. “If he says tomorrow that we do not have what is necessary, tears will flow.”

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