French GP revival failures frustrate Prost

Tue, 23 November 2010, 08:31

Nov.23 (GMM) Alain Prost has admitted he is frustrated that moves to revive a French grand prix have so far not succeeded.

After the demise of the Magny Cours event, the quadruple world champion actively supported the major alternative projects, including one at Flins-Les-Mureaux as well as Disneyland Paris.

He told RMC radio that he is concerned efforts to put France back onto the F1 calendar is losing momentum.

“It must not be buried now,” said Prost.

“There was a great opportunity last year at the time of the regional (elections), and a first draft for Disney which in hindsight was perhaps a bit complicated.

“But Flins was an exceptional site with a real project, a real business plan, and formula one to happen for only eight hours in a year, to appease the critics,” he explained.

“There was a real programme for the utilisation of the circuit, with an economic and social advantage.

“There would have been 100,000 extra people near Paris. Everyone was enthusiastic, especially Bernie Ecclestone.

“But the project was abandoned when everything was ready and financed, because of the regional election and an environmental problem that was essentially political,” Prost charged.

He confirmed that the biggest problem seems to be a lack of political will.

“Do we want a grand prix of France?” wondered Prost. “Today, there are no French drivers in F1, Renault will soon not be called Renault … it’s a bit complicated and a financial issue.

“The price asked by Bernie Ecclestine (for a GP) is variable — about EUR 15 million per year in Europe. Abroad, it is between 30 and 40 million, as in Abu Dhabi.

“It’s an economic equation: how many spectators can you get? (If it’s) about 50 or 60,000, and the price is 15 million, your losses are about 8 million.

“Who can put up 8 million? So if the politicians or the government are not saying ‘it’s important for France to have a grand prix’, it’s not worth talking about.

“It’s rubbish when I hear that what is needed is a promoter. The promoter (of the Disneyland Paris project) was the Lagardere group and myself.

“Above all what is important is that the economics are sustainable,” added Prost.

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