Ecclestone confirms Canada withdrawal

Although Bernie Ecclestone initially denied any knowledge of the Canadian Grand Prix being dropped from the 2004 Formula One calendar, he has now confirmed that is the case. Race promoter Normand Legault made public the letter he received from ...

Although Bernie Ecclestone initially denied any knowledge of the Canadian Grand Prix being dropped from the 2004 Formula One calendar, he has now confirmed that is the case. Race promoter Normand Legault made public the letter he received from Formula One Management (FOM) that said the race had been withdrawn from the schedule due to tobacco advertising bans that come into force in Canada in October.

Now Ecclestone has released a statement from FOM explaining the situation: "I can confirm that a letter was written to the Canadian race promoter following a meeting I had with him when I informed him the Canadian round of the FIA Formula 1 Championship would not be included in the 2004 calender." The statement read.

"The reason for this is that the Canadian government has brought into effect a total prohibition on tobacco-related sponsorship. There is a provision in our contract with the race promoter that should this become effective, we have the right not to include their event in the calendar for the relevant year."

"Our problem is quite simple. The F1 teams with tobacco-related sponsorship lose part of their revenue when a certain percentage of the events ban tobacco sponsorship. This was the reason the Belgian Grand Prix was not included in the 2003 calendar. Everyone is sorry to lose the Canadian race as we all love Montreal and the warm support the city has always given Formula 1."

While Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien maintains the tobacco advertising ban will go ahead, Legault intends to appeal to the teams and manufacturers in F1 to try and change Ecclestone's mind. F1 races in England and France without tobacco sponsorship but races are being dropped in favour of countries that have not banned such advertising.

In retaliation, a public demonstration is to take place tomorrow (Saturday) in Montreal, from 10.00am, at Square Dorchester (corner Peel St. and René-Lévesque Blvd.) It's an open event and all are welcome to show support and campaign for Canada's reinstatement.

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Bernie Ecclestone