The French Grand Prix could be set to return to the Formula 1 calendar from 2011, after planning permission was granted for a new circuit to be built close to Paris.
Following Magny-Cours' disappearance from the calendar, there will be no grand prix in the country – one where the sport effectively began all the way back in 1906 – for the first time in more than half a century this year, but plans are already in the pipeline to reclaim a spot on the schedule.
Though Magny-Cours – which has hosted the event on every occasion since 1991 – is unlikely to ever welcome the top flight again given commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone's well-documented dislike of the Nevers venue, specialist sports newspaper L'Équipe
reports that the French Senate has approved a bill amendment to fast-track preparations for a new F1-standard facility to be developed in the Yvelines department, about 40 minutes away from the capital.
“If the construction and organisation is conducted in a timely manner, it is possible that a grand prix can be held in France from 2011,” read a report from the four senators behind the project, arguing that the financial benefits of a return to the F1 scene would help France to drag itself back out of its economic malaise.
The plans are still awaiting, however, both a major sponsor as well as ratification by governing body the FIA and Ecclestone's Formula One Management company. Moreover, whilst the initiative has received the support of French prime minister François Fillon, there is said to be opposition from locals, who organised a protest last weekend.
A support committee for the project, entitled 'Yvelines F1 – La vallée de l'automobile', has been set up by Pierre Bedier, president of Yvelines' council.
A previous attempt to re-locate the race to Disneyland Paris collapsed last year.