Formula 1's drivers and teams alike have been unanimous in their sadness at the loss of the Canadian Grand Prix in 2009 - the first time in 20 years that Montreal will not welcome the top flight, and the first time in more than four decades that Canada will not have an F1 race at all.

With more than 300,000 spectators attending the grand prix weekend on an annual basis since 2001 - 120,000 of them on the Sunday - an estimated $100 million per year in revenue and economic benefits for Montreal as the city's biggest event and higher-than-average television viewing audiences due to its prime-time slot in Europe, the announcement that the race around the evocative Circuit Gilles Villeneuve had been abruptly axed from the calendar and Turkey had been moved into its early June date to allow for a month-long summer break came as something of a shock to all involved.

"I've obviously spent a few years racing in Montreal," remarked Honda star Jenson Button. "I love the city; I think it's a great city and one of the best races to go for the nightlife - it's a lot of fun. The circuit itself was breaking up quite a bit over the last couple of years and causing a lot of marbles and difficulties for us.

"It's always sad seeing a circuit go, though. We get a holiday now in the summer which is quite nice, but it's sad to see it go, for sure. I don't know the reasons behind it but I will miss the city, Montreal, probably more than the circuit."

"I think it's very sad news as well," agreed Williams rookie Kazuki Nakajima. "I raced there only once this year, [but] our car has been very competitive every time there, so it's a bit of a downside for our team for next year.

"Even though the circuit was breaking up and there were a lot of problems, the race itself has always been very exciting. As Jenson said, it's good to have a summer break, but at the same time missing Canada is probably not the best thing."

"It's a shame we've lost Canada," added Toyota's Timo Glock, who paced the opening day of practice for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji [see separate story - click here]. "For me, I had really good memories every time.

"I scored two points in my first Formula 1 race in Canada, I was on the podium in Champ Cars and this year again I had a really good result in position four. It was one of the best races on the calendar, and it's a shame we will be missing it."

Montreal's disappearance from the schedule means there will be no North American outing at all next year - for the first time in more than half a century - and it is a move that has clearly not been well-received by the sport's teams, with the United States being one of if not the most significant marketing arena the world over for major car manufacturers like BMW, Honda and Toyota.

"Obviously we are not happy about not being in North America," asserted BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen, whose driver Robert Kubica achieved both his and BMW's maiden grand prix victory in Canada earlier this year. "The US is the most important and biggest car market for BMW, and I think for the industry as a whole.

"It has always been difficult to set foot into the US, but Canada has always been a very strong Formula 1 supporter with the race in Montreal. I have seen the race in Montreal as an operational base to get a second race up-and-running in the US, and so we would - rather than drop the Canada race - use it to expand the operations in North America to have a Canadian plus at least one US race. The intention should be not to step out of this market but just the opposite, to use Montreal as door-opener for a future US race as well."

"We are sad because it's a great race," reflected Toyota Motorsport President John Howett. "We like to go there. I think one of the targets of FOTA (the Formula One Teams' Association) is to actually ask the commercial rights-holder to really establish a strong foothold in North America, particularly the US, with a race which showcases Formula 1 well and is, if you like, economically beneficial to Formula 1 as a whole.

"I think this is one of the core discussions FOTA wishes to have, because it is a very important market for our sponsors and for Formula 1, and hopefully in the next one-to-two years we can establish a proper race in the United States which is good for all of us."

"We are hugely disappointed," concurred Honda CEO Nick Fry. "It's difficult to emphasise by how much. Honda is very successful in Canada, we make cars there [and] the local company there is hugely enthusiastic about Formula 1. We have large numbers of guests from America and from Canada, we sponsor the event, we would like to see it back on the calendar as soon as possible and I support John's comments that I think it will be a major topic of conversation at the next meeting of the teams.

"I think we need to look at North America on a more strategic basis. As soon as we were down to one race on the continent, things inevitably were going to get difficult because the costs of transportation and appearing just once across the other side of the Atlantic were huge. I think really we need to look at how we're not just going to get back Canada, but how we get back to America, potentially more than once, as it is such an important market."

Montreal radio station CJAD claims Normand Legault, the executive director of race-promoter F1 Grand Prix du Canada, owes Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management company between $10 million and $20 million.

The task of solving that 'commercial disagreement' and getting the event re-instated on the F1 calendar has now been passed - at the instigation of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper - to Quebec, federal and municipal government.

Canada's federal minister of international trade Michael Fortier, Qu?bec's economic development and tourism minister Raymond Bachand, Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay and the vice-president of Grand Prix du Canada, Paul Wilson are understood to be working in collaboration to find a solution and are due to meet Ecclestone in ten days' time.

"The grand prix is an event that we cannot afford to lose, and that we will not lose," Fortier told Canadian national newspaper the Globe and Mail. "There are three years left on [the race's five-year contract]. I believe on the basis of the contract we can move forward. We will do whatever we can to see that the [race] stays in Montreal."

"What we will be discussing is a business deal," added Tremblay, quoted by Canwest News Service. "If we do nothing, it is gone.

"Any talk of a bail-out is premature, though. We will make a decision that is fiscally responsible."

Forty per cent of all visitors to the race come from outside of Qu?bec, but Wilson explained that as one of the few remaining grands prix not subsidised by a government body, the Canadian race was always going to be vulnerable in an age in which an increasing number of venues - particularly in the booming Middle and Far East - are willing and able to pay above the odds for their right to welcome the world's most glamorous and expensive sport.

With Canada reputedly having paid $20 million a year to host the top flight - compared to the $50 million coughed up by some rivalling countries - Wilson acknowledged that the only hope now was for the government to step in to try and save the day.

"For an organisation like ours, which is to say a private promoter, the actual business model implemented by the owners [of F1] and F1 teams is no longer feasible," Wilson told the Montreal Gazette. "Given the financial pressure imposed by the indebtedness of the owners, combined with the demands of the teams, there is no choice but to impose cost increases that are unfortunately no longer feasible for our market.

"Like any business, we had to make a business decision based on these observations. We were confronted with the following choices - either we re-negotiate on a more realistic basis for our market, or we remove ourselves entirely from the management of this event.

"Mr Ecclestone seems to have made his decision. It is true that a commercial disagreement existed between us, and we are sorry that Mr Ecclestone deemed it appropriate to cut short the negotiations and react in this manner.

"It's now for [the government] to call the shots. If they think it's a good idea for the city, for the province, for the country, go for it. Is it worth it? I can't answer that; they can.

"I know that Michael [Fortier] wants to start moving things and wants to have meetings, and if he needs our help to speak to people and build a business plan of what it could be like, we'll be there for sure."

F1 Grand Prix du Canada is said to be no longer interested in promoting the event, with rising costs having pushed the race out of reach of a private promoter, but Ecclestone has reportedly admitted that he would be keen to see the race return in the future.