McLaren's Racing Director Eric Boullier has outlined how he was involved in seeing the French Grand Prix return to the F1 calendar, as the sport prepares to return to Circuit Paul Ricard in 2018.
After a decade away, F1 returns to France in 2018 after a deal was confirmed by Circuit Paul Ricard
and is expected to replace the German Grand Prix which has already dropped of the F1 calendar.
At the official presentation to announce the comeback of the French GP, Boullier confirmed he has been working alongside the circuit owners and key figures to get a deal in place.
"We worked together with Stéphane Clair [Circuit Paul Ricard General Director], to sound out the feasibility of the project and lend it credibility so the F1 French Grand Prix could come home,” Boullier said. "I believe that we had the confidence and credibility of the FOM Chairman, Bernie Ecclestone, who agreed to listen to us.
"It's a very credible project. As soon as it became serious with a strategy in place, we began to have real dialogue.
"Even though France is a country that has always had a love-hate relationship with cars it will bring new energy to the country. We have many French champions: Romain Grosjean, Esteban Ocon, and now Pierre Gasly, not to mention past champions plus Renault and Total are in F1.
“When we have 24 Hours of Le Mans, we should have an F1 French Grand Prix. It's high time France opened up to the world.”
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Former four-time F1 world champion Alain Prost has also thrown his backing behind the French GP and hopes the circuit and local area can prosper with the return of F1 both in a sporting and economic sense.
"I would like to sincerely thank and congratulate all those who worked to successfully bring the F1 French Grand Prix home,” Prost said. "It's a huge project, and, of course, very good news for motorsport, the French motorsport economy, the French car industry and, indirectly for tourism.
"I'm definitely going to be there and I hope it will be a successful, well-attended sporting event."
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