Date: 29th February 2012 at 1:52pm
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Former four-time Formula One World Champion Alain Prost has publicly backed plans for a French race to return to the Formula One calendar.

Talks have been held with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone for Formula One to return to the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Castellet, near Marseille for the first time since 1990 in a shared race scenario with Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

In 1991 the French Grand Prix moved to Magny-Cours, but in 2008 F1 moved away from France and as yet has not returned.

The Belgian Grand Prix is one of the most popular races on the calendar for spectators in Britain and across Europe, but financial problems across Europe, has raised question marks over its long-term future.

Prost would prefer Belgium and France to have their own events on the Formula One calendar, but the 57-year-old understands the financial implications of holding the race and thinks the two tracks hosting the race on a bi-annual basis could be the way forward: ‘Obviously the best thing would be for France and Belgium to have their own Grands Prix each year,’ he told Russian website F1News as quoted by Sky Sports

‘But unfortunately you have to admit that Europe is facing great difficulties, so if this is the only way for the race to happen, then why not? It’s better than nothing.’

Previous reports suggested that a deal could be struck in time for September 2013 for F1 to return to France, but talks appear to have gone quiet.

But France’s sports minister David Douillet has moved to calm fears of a collapse in talks.

‘I met Bernie Ecclestone, he is totally willing to share just what Formula 1 Grand Prix between Belgium and France,’ Douillet told TF1.

‘It has been mobilized and motivated by local governments struggling to finance this type of event. The cost will be divided by the two as we will share it with Belgium.

‘We have three new French drivers in Formula 1 and so we have to have a Grand Prix de France. That is my job.’


It is believed that if a deal is struck, the event will alternate between the French Grand Prix and the Belgian Grand Prix for a period of 10 years.