Bernie Ecclestone rules out French GP return at Magny-Cours
"There isn’t a good circuit in France,” Ecclestone complains; But Italian GP could alternate between Monza and Imola
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 04/11/16 6:21pm
Bernie Ecclestone has indicated that F1 will not return to France unless an adequate replacement for the unpopular Magny-Cours circuit is found.
Despite producing a plethora of drivers in recent years, including Romain Grosjean, Jules Bianchi and Jean-Eric Vergne, France hasn’t hosted a race since 2008.
Magny-Cours replaced the Paul Ricard circuit as the home of the French GP in 1991. While the track itself received mixed reviews, the venue’s rural location – “slap bang in the middle of nowhere,” according to former Red Bull driver Mark Webber – proved a turn-off for supporters and protagonists alike.
F1 briefly returned to Magny-Cours in September 2012 for a three-day Young Driver Test but as the sport contemplates new adventures across the globe a return to a remote outpost isn’t on Ecclestone’s agenda.
“There isn’t a good circuit in France,” the F1 supremo told Sky Sports F1. “We left France because it didn’t work for anyone. France could get support to hold a race but where it is, nobody is excited by it.”
F1 will make a return to Mexico after a 20-year hiatus later this season while for 2016 includes a brand-new destination in the shape of Baku in Azerbaijan.
But Ecclestone’s ambition to make F1 a global sport in location as well as reach remains undimmed.
“I’d like to get a race in South Africa,” he confirmed. “There are other places in America – I am disappointed we didn’t get the New Jersey race but maybe we will. I think it will happen.”
The much-trumpeted New Jersey event, which would have showcased the iconic New York skyline as its backdrop, was first due to be held in 2013 and was included on the provisional calendar for 2014 but floundered amid financial concerns.
It has emerged in recent weeks that the under-threat Italian GP could alternate between Monza and Imola. Two years ago, a similar arrangement was touted for the French GP to return to the calendar on an alternate basis with the Belgian GP before authorities at the Spa circuit signed a three-year extension.