The chances of the French Grand Prix returning to the Formula One calendar appear to rest with Bernie Ecclestone and the powers-that-be accepting the makeover proposed for Magny-Cours after the Paris-based Flins project was apparently canned.
With the annual trip to the countryside of central France already off the calendar in 2009, several alternatives to Magny-Cours - which the drivers liked for the driving challenge but no-one enjoyed for its location - were put forward, only to fall by the wayside one-by-one. With neither Disneyland nor a proposed street race around Paris itself materialising, Flins-Les-Mureaux - in the Yvelines department north-east of the capital - emerged as the only credible alternative but, despite the fervent backing of four-time world champion Alain Prost, was immediately beset by opposition from both government and environmental opponents.
“In the absence of the necessary support that I called for on 3 July on the occasion of my election, and having consulted with all those concerned with the project – whether they are for or against it – I have taken the decision along with all the members of the departmental assembly to scrap the construction of an F1 circuit,” Yvelines regional president Alain Schmitz confirmed.
The proposed circuit was only ever a small part of a much wider automotive project - La Vallée de l'Automobile et de la Mobilité Durable
- designed to help renovate the wider Yvelines area by creating new jobs and boosting the economy, but that too appears to have fallen victim to laissez-faire
"Although South Korea has mobilised to host a grand prix in 2010, we can be surprised that the world's third largest media spectacle after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup is so denigrated in France by politicians," Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile president Nicolas Deschaux commented.
The French Grand Prix had been a regular fixture on the F1 calendar for more than half a century, with Magny-Cours the latest host, following on from the likes of Paul Ricard, Dijon-Prenois, Charade, Rouen-les-Essarts, Le Mans' Bugatti circuit and Reims. When the Nevers venue was dropped from the schedule after failing to reach a suitable commercial deal with Ecclestone's Formula One Management, it highlighted the lack of French involvement in the top flight which, with the exception of Renault
and its belated promotion of Romain Grosjean, is mighty thin.