Although Formula One's hierarchy and the involved tobacco sponsors appear ready to cast Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve into the wilderness from next season, several team bosses have voiced their support for the Canadian venue.

The event, one of only two on the North American continent appears doomed following the invocation of a long-planned ban on all forms of tobacco advertising. As with Belgium this year, the event is on the verge of being axed from the F1 calendar in order to appease the remaining tobacco sponsors who do not want their teams to run without their logos. Event organisers have been told by Bernie Ecclestone that the race is almost certain to be dropped in 2004, and may struggle to return to the calendar as more and more new venues come online.

However, following yesterday's support from the drivers attending the pole position press conference, the Canadian round has now attracted positive attention from various team bosses - including some of those whose teams are backed by tobacco brands - after they were addressed by a delegation from Montreal ahead of the Hungarian GP this weekend.

"It's a great city...and if we are ever going to crack the north American continent, cancelling or not going to a place like Montreal doesn't seem at all logical to me," Eddie Jordan told Reuters.

Toyota team boss Ove Andersson echoed the Irishman's opinion, claiming that, for him, Canada was 'one of the best grands prix'.

"Canada is also a very important market for Toyota, so we are definitely not so happy that it is not on the calendar for next year," the genial Swede added.

Over at BAR, meanwhile, team boss David Richards admitted that his principal backer, tobacco brand Lucky Strike, might be prepared to run in Montreal despite the ban.

"Our sponsors have actually said they would consider running without livery if it made a difference to going back to the event," Richards said, before adding that the teams would probably seek compensation if an extra event was added to the schedule.

Despite the level of support in the paddock, however, hopes that the race may be re-instated on the schedule appear to be fading.

"I would say that the chances are at the same level they were yesterday," Montreal's minister for local affairs Jean-Marc Fournier told reporters on the opening day of the Hungaroring weekend, "We see openings, but they are very little."

 

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