France has finally decided upon a circuit with which it hopes to re-attract the attention of Formula 1, after falling off the calendar this year for the first time in more than half a century.
Having hosted the French Grand Prix since 1991, Magny-Cours – traditionally unpopular amongst drivers, teams and fans alike for its poor access, dreary atmosphere and lack of overtaking opportunities – was axed from the schedule after event organisers and Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Bernie Ecclestone failed to come to a financial agreement.
That came after the Nevers circuit had been threatened with the chop by the sport's commercial rights-holder on a number of previous occasions, and when the French Motorsports Federation (FFSA) withdrew its funding as a result of the current global credit crunch, Magny-Cours' fate was sealed.
Since then, a whole raft of possible venues have been mooted for the race's future – with Disneyland Paris initially seeming to be the most viable option – but it has now been announced that a 4.5km-long, 95-hectare site at Flins-Les Mureaux in the department of Yvelines, around 40 kilometres north-west of the capital, has received the nod.
The €112 million project is the joint brainchild of Parisian architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Clive Bowen of British circuit designers Apex, and according to international news agency AFP
has the capacity to cater for 120,000 seated spectators.
Moreover, the track is understood to have been designed to be technically challenging and – with Magny-Cours' memory still very vivid – with overtaking in mind, and will also feature a year-round, on-site conference centre.
“All of the 18 jury members voted for this project,” revealed the chairman of Yvelines' departmental council Pierre Bedier, who praised the initiative as one 'which constitutes durable development'. “This dossier has the virtue of improving a site which is currently lying fallow and not being properly utilised.”