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French GP set to replace New Jersey

28 October 2012

France is looking favourite to benefit from the postponement of the 2013 New Jersey Grand Prix, with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone indicating that a race at either Magny-Cours or Paul Ricard may boost next season back to a full compliment of 20 races.

The expected inaugural street race in New Jersey, just across the river from the iconic New York City skyline, was postponed until 2014 earlier this month after Ecclestone had declared that the organisers "didn't quite know what they were doing" in their preparations for the event, originally scheduled for June 16 next year.

"The event is not going to happen" Ecclestone had revealed. "Everything is set up, but it's now too late to finish on time."

That left a hole in the F1 calendar of events for 2013, with the schedule looking set to drop back to 19 events next season.

But speaking to reporters at the Buddh International Circuit, Ecclestone hinted that he was looking at a replacement race to be held in France to bump the season up to 20 races once again.

"As far as I am concerned, yes. I am hoping," Ecclestone replied when asked whether France could step into the breach left by New Jersey. "We are ready to sign. We've got a pen, we're ready to sign a contract."

The return of the French GP to the F1 calendar looked a sure thing earlier this year with a deal all-but signed, but the results of the French presidential election in May - which saw incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy ousted in favour of socialist leader Francois Hollande - scuppered the financial deal that had been in place with the French government and meant that France was not on the 2013 season calendar unveiled at the end of last month.

But with the need to come up with a "ready-to-roll" Grand Prix at relatively short notice for next season, the French GP is once again favourite to return to the F1 calendar for the first time since 2008.

"If they are ready, we can slot it in the calendar," Ecclestone told reporters ahead of the Indian Grand Prix this weekend.

It remains an open question as to whether a revived event would return to its previous home at Magny-Cours or move to the Paul Ricard Circuit located in Le Castellet in the south of France, which is owned by Ecclestone and which previously held the French Grand Prix up until 1990.

"Which circuit they are going to use is one thing," agreed Ecclestone. "And who is going to pay for it. That's the bottom line.

If a new French Grand Prix were to pick up the same slot as the defunct New Jersey event, then it would slot in between the Canadian GP on June 9 and the British GP at Silverstone on June 30.


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