The future of the French Grand Prix has been plunged into chaos after it has been revealed that Euro Disney – the leading alternative to host the race following Magny-Cours' disappearance – has withdrawn its bid.
With no French Grand Prix on the F1 calendar in 2009 – for the first time since 1955 – and the sport's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone vowing 'never' to return to the unpopular Nevers circuit again, France had been looking for a new venue to stage the event. Euro Disney had been seen as the most favourable option – until now.
Magny-Cours has long been slated for its rural location, poor access, lack of on-track action and poor crowd turn-out, but Euro Disney had appeared to be a potential saviour, offering huge opportunities in terms of exposure and publicity. Yesterday, however, Euro Disney and the Lagardere Sports group behind the bid announced that with the necessary funding unable to be secured, the project was off.
'Despite the quality of the dossier put together by the two private partners and the support of Bernie Ecclestone, it proved impossible to reach an agreement with the other parties, which was an essential condition in the development of the project,' read a joint statement, revealed on Pitpass
'As a result, Lagardere Sports, in accordance with Euro Disney, has decided not to pursue the project to organise the 2010 Formula One French Grand Prix in the Val d'Europe region.'
It is reported that the Euro Disney initiative – which had the backing of France's only F1 World Champion, four-time title-winner Alain Prost – was unpopular with local residents, who last weekend protested against the noise that would have been created and the negative impact a race would have had on their quality of life. Locals have also expressed themselves in opposition to a grand prix around the streets of Paris, an idea long championed by Ecclestone.
Euro Disney was one of six possibilities being mused over by the French motorsport federation (FFSA), and could have taken place as soon as 2010, but the latest news means the return of the French Grand Prix – in the country that coined the term grand prix – could now be some years further off still.