It has now been confirmed that there will be no French Grand Prix next season - but that the event will return in 2005, after signing a new five-year deal.

"We're having a break in 2004, in agreement with (Bernie) Ecclestone, and we have signed a contract from 2005 to 2009, with the possibility of adding another five years," Mangy Cours chief Roland Hodel told radio RMC-Info.

"In 2004 everyone who loves motor sport has to launch into action to bring in all the partnerships which are necessary for us to have Formula One back again," he added, refering to the money which still needs to be found.

Local government Marcel Charmant had provided the first hint that the race was in danger on Friday, when he said that the money required by Ecclestone to guarantee the 2004 event could not be found.

That revelation prompted French sports minister Jean-Francois Lamour to launch a final bid to keep the event in place - an attempt which while appearing to have partially failed, looks to have at least secured the long term future of Formula One in France.

The 2004 British Grand Prix, which at present clashes with both the Wimbledon men's Tennis final and Euro 2004 Football final, may now be moved.

 

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