French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged his support behind a potential return of the French Grand Prix to the Formula 1 calendar.
The French GP returned to the F1 roster in 2018 after a 10-year hiatus at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet.
However, the contract was not renewed beyond the 2022 running, prompting it to be absent from this year’s calendar – and it has not been included in next year’s draft either.
But according to French newspaper Nice-Matin, Nice mayor Christian Estrosi recently wrote to Macron expressing the need for his support to revive the race and received a positive response from the current President, who has handed Estrosi and FFSA president Nicholas Deschaux the reigns to open talks with F1 and Liberty Media.
Estrosi and Deschaux have also been entrusted to conduct a feasibility study on the matter, but no particular venue for the potential race has yet been pinpointed.
“Be sure that I fully share your ambition,” Macron outlined.
“Indeed, as you point out, our country must be able, like the other major international sporting events it organises every year, to reconnect with F1, for the pleasure of all.
“It is an issue of attractiveness for our country, the influence of our automotive industry and innovation to support the decarbonisation of this sector.
“As such, you will be able to study the different possible location options [in France], identifying for each their economic model, their compatibility with our ecological commitments and their possible contribution to regional and national development.
“In this context, you will focus on engaging in discussions with the holders of the rights to F1.”
A street circuit in Nice has been billed as a possible option, having previously been under consideration when the future of the Monaco Grand Prix was in danger.
Although Paul Ricard looks unlikely to be considered again at this stage, Jean Alesi, the current boss at the venue, believes earning Macron’s support for the French GP is critical, attributing the previous loss of the grand prix to a shortcoming when it came to political support for the event.
“The problem with F1 in France is not with the circuit, it’s with the politics,” the former one-time F1 race winner told Motorsport.com.
“It’s probably the only F1 grand prix that’s never had a president come to watch it – except for at Magny-Cours once, when [Francois] Mitterrand attended as part of his political wish for the race to be there.
“Since then, it’s never happened. The problem is not with the circuit; the problem is the wish of the country.
“My other job is a F1 Ambassador, so my link to F1 is direct – with no bullshit – and they are very clear about that.”