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Ecclestone confirms French GP return

Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that the French Grand Prix is to return to the F1 calendar in 2013, with the race to be held at the Paul Ricard Circuit.
Bernie Ecclestone has said that a deal has been agreed to return the French Grand Prix to the F1 calendar from next year.

According to French newspaper L'Equipe, Ecclestone confirmed the news to them on Sunday morning in the paddock at the Bahrain International Circuit.

"The deal is done," the paper quotes Ecclestone as telling them. "We actually agreed on financial terms with the Sports Minister, David Douillet, in my office last Tuesday."

The paperwork is yet to be signed, with Ecclestone adding that "We are still discussing a few points of money around the race," with agreement said to be required over a final 2 million euro difference in the level of funding required between Ecclestone and the French government.

But Ecclestone went on to say that he viewed this as a mere formality: "For me there's no doubt, we will sign now," he said. "As soon as the French are ready."

Ecclestone said that the contracts could be signed even before the end of the French presidential elections, the first round of which is underway this weekend. Ecclestone said that the elections had no effect on the negotiations, and that "Whatever the outcome, I do not care - this is a domestic issue that does not concern me."

It's expected that the reinstated French Grand Prix will be held from 2013 at the Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet near Marseille, which is owned by Ecclestone. It will be the first F1 event in France since June 2008 at Magny-Cours, when Felipe Massa emerged triumphant for Ferrari ahead of his then-team mate Kimi Raikkonen.

It's thought that the race will alternate with the Belgium Grand Prix, which is unlikely to be popular with F1 fans who frequently vote Spa-Francorchamps as one of their favourite Grand Prix tracks of the season.

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