The national motorsport body of France - the F?d?ration Fran?aise du Sport Automobile [FFSA] - has confirmed that the necessary financial guarantees to secure the future of the French Grand Prix have now been put in place, although exactly where the money is coming from remains a mystery.

In a short statement issued on Friday [19 December], the FFSA reported that it had 'signed and transmitted the contract concerning the organisation of the French Grand Prix 2004 to Formula One Management [FOM], including the financial guarantees stipulated'.

The race was axed from the calendar last month when it failed to reach an agreement with Bernie Ecclestone and the FOM regarding the necessary payments for both the 2003 event and that scheduled for next year. FFSA president Jacques Regis said in a press conference that a shortfall of around $8million had placed the 2004 race in jeopardy and could potentially threaten France's place on future F1 calendars, before calling on the national government for economic support.

As yet, no details of where the money is coming from have been released, and the announcement notably coincided with the revelation that the Burgundy regional council, which had proposed to grant EUR2million to the cause, had had its plan rejected by political opposition. Whilst, to the FFSA at least, the Magny-Cours race looks set to be re-instated, attempts to boost the F1 schedule to a record 18 races remain in doubt.

The return of the race, which has been moved forward to the 4 July in a switch of dates with Silverstone, has one other hurdle to clear, as it remains subject to the agreement of all ten competing teams, who have until the end of the year to signal any opposition.



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