Little over a week on from the news that the Canadian Grand Prix has been dropped from the 2009 Formula 1 calendar [see separate story – click here
], the new season has now been reduced further with the news that the French Grand Prix will not be taking place either due to economic reasons.
Next year's edition of the race was set to be the last one to be held at Magny-Cours – whose lack of overtaking opportunities, rural nature and difficult access have long made it unpopular amongst drivers, teams and fans alike – but the event seemed to have secured itself a reprieve when the provisional schedule was released, taking its traditional early summer slot on 28 June.
The future of the French Grand Prix has been the subject of a long-running saga for a number of years, with it being removed from the calendar and re-instated with seemingly equal abandon. This announcement, however, would appear to be the final nail in the coffin for Magny-Cours as an F1 venue, and has even provoked speculation that Montreal may be set for a surprise return.
An official statement read: 'The executive committee of the FFSA (French Motorsport Federation), under Nicolas Deschaux's presidency, took the following decisions.
'After examination the economic context, the FFSA gives up the status of financial promoter of a Formula One Grand Prix. As a consequence and as long as a promoter will not be identified to succeed the FFSA, the Grand Prix of France of Formula One will not be put on the international calendar in 2009.'
With hopes high that the race will be back on the schedule in 2010, six potential locations have been unveiled – Yvelines, Gonesse (Paris), Domaine de Ferrières (Paris), Sarcelles, hot favourite Disneyland Paris and current incumbent Magny-Cours.
The news means the 2009 campaign will now be run over 17 rather than the originally scheduled 19 races, beginning in Australia on 29 March and culminating with the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on 15 November. An official calendar is due to be re-released by governing body the FIA later this month.