One of the most popular and entertaining events on the annual F1 schedule has been re-instated on the 2010 calendar following months of protracted financial negotiations – with the official confirmation that the Canadian Grand Prix is back.
The announcement was made during a special news conference called by Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay on Friday, in company with and federal and provincial politicians. The new contract is for five years, at a rate of $15 million CAN per annum – some $20 million CAN less than F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone had initially been demanding [see separate story – click here
The bill will be footed jointly by the Canadian, Québec and Montreal governments along with the city's tourism board – with hoteliers having been convinced to charge a special tax on accommodation over the grand prix weekend, as has been the case in the past – and the race will be the eighth of 19 on the 2010 calendar, due to be held on 13 June. In return for their investment, the governments involved will recoup 30 per cent of the ticket sales.
The Canadian Grand Prix has always been a much-loved stop on the F1 schedule, both for the exciting nature of the races around the iconic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – named after the country's greatest motorsport hero, the father of 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve – and for the vibrancy and enthusiasm of the cosmopolitan city in which it takes place.
However, due to an ongoing and unresolved dispute between Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Ecclestone and former race promoter Normand Legault over alleged unpaid fees, the event was scrapped in 2009, ending an unbroken run stretching all the way back to 1988.
“The return of Formula 1 to Montreal attests to our sustained efforts and determination,” affirmed Tremblay, in a statement published by Reuters
. “This win-win deal falls in-line with the terms we set and the taxpayer's ability to pay, and will create stability for the next five years.
“I am very pleased that our metropolis is bringing back this crucial stage in the Formula 1 series for fans from around the world, and an outstanding opportunity in terms of the event's international reach.”
The Canadian Grand Prix has featured on the F1 schedule on no fewer than 40 occasions since making its debut back in 1967 at Mosport Park in Ontario. Since 1978, it has been held uniquely in Montreal – and the city's tourism board welcomed the confirmation of its return.
“The Grand Prix of Canada has more impact on the tourist industry than any other sports event in Canada,” revealed Québec Minister of Tourism, Nicole Menard. “Of the 300,000 spectators at the competition, 25 per cent come from outside of Québec. This event alone delivers some $89 million CAN in economic fall-out each year, along with 75,000 overnight hotel stays. I am certainly delighted by this news.”