Despite speculation that the returning French Grand Prix was destined for Paul Ricard in 2013, the lack of a formal announcement has prompted another former venue to stake a claim for the race.
Prime minister Francois Fillon paid a flying visit to Le Castellet during last weekend's ELMS sportscar event, prompting a flurry of reports to claim that he was about to confirm that the HTTT was to enter into a race-sharing agreement with Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps to alternate years on the F1 schedule. Instead, he merely revealed that, while the intention was to reinstate the home of the 'grande epreuve' alongside the other countries currently hosting F1, there remained a €2m financial shortfall in agreeing a fee with the sport's ringmaster, Bernie Ecclestone.
While Fillon did confirm that the intention was to stage any French round at Paul Ricard, the event's most recent home, Magny-Cours, looks likely to offer an alternative, despite its 'middle of nowhere' location not living up to the challenge presented by its track layout.
With the Fédération Française du Sport Automobile [FFSA] refusing to fund the event beyond 2008, France dropped off the calendar to be replaced by the likes of Korea, Abu Dhabi and India, but now the company overseeing Magny-Cours, which 'stole' the race from Paul Ricard in 1991, is keen to attract the race back to its 4.4km circuit.
“We are candidates for the French GP,” former race team owner-turned-SAEMSCNMC managing director Serge Saulnier told l'Equipe
newspaper. “I am surprised that the ministerial group in charge of this project considers Paul Ricard to be the only option. In fact, we have never been taken into consideration, never been listened to or met with.”