The Canadian Grand Prix is set to be definitively confirmed on the 2010 F1 World Championship calendar, according to reports – at an annual fee some $20 million CAN (£11.3 million) less than commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone had originally been demanding.
The popular race was removed from the F1 schedule in 2009 as the result of an ongoing financial dispute between Ecclestone's Formula One Management (FOM) company and then race promoter Grand Prix du Canada, run by Normand Legault. The former's stipulation for the grand prix to be re-instated was initially a staggering $175 million CAN over five years – but now it appears a deal has been hammered out for just $75 million CAN.
At the end of what has been described as a 'marathon' of negotiations bedevilled by obstacles and ultimatums, an agreement has been reached between Ecclestone and the three levels of government involved, with the green light set to be given later this week to finally confirm the currently provisional 13 June date on the F1 2010 schedule, following a number of false dawns. French-language Montreal newspaper La Presse
reports that such an announcement is now merely 'a formality'.
It is also stated that the organisations who will foot the annual $15 million CAN bill – the governments of Québec, Ottawa and Montreal and the Montreal Tourism association – had been unsure about pushing ahead with the deal in the wake of the recent manufacturer withdrawals from F1, with fears that a less attractive grid might draw in fewer spectators, and therefore less revenue.
Ottawa is set to contribute $5 million CAN, Quebec $4 million CAN and Montreal $1 million CAN via the Société du Parc Jean-Drapeau, where the iconic and popular Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is situated. Tourism Montreal will chip in the remaining $5 million CAN, with the city's hoteliers having been convinced to charge a special tax on accommodation over the grand prix weekend, as has been done in the past. In return for their investment, the governments will recoup 30 per cent of the ticket sales.
The new race promoter will be Octane, directed by Legault's long-time right-hand man François Dumontier.