The future of the Canadian Grand Prix has finally been positively resolved and the race now has a contract for the next three years, with an option for a further five years. The announcement was made at a press conference in Montreal today, November 18th, attended by Normand Legault (President, GPF1), Martin Cauchon (Federal government, minister of Quebec), Jean-Marc Fournier (provincial government, minister of tourism), Gérald Tremblay (Mayor of Montréal) and Marc Portelance (Labatt Breweries).
"We are happy to have reached such a conclusion when, in August, we estimated our chances to have Formula One with us again to be rather slim," said Legault. "For the Canadian Grand Prix team, the bulk of work now remains to be done -- to prepare and sell the event and to ensure in large part the compensation payment to the teams."
In order to find the compensation needed for the tobacco-backed teams to race without sponsor logos, contributions were given by the parties concerned. Both levels of government will invest $2 million (Canadian) per year for the next three years and Labatt Breweries will add $5 million for one year, although Labatt will not be the official sponsor of the GP.
Legault and his company will contribute somewhere in the region of $12 million; the total cost of the compensation amounts to $29 million. The teams will receive $30 million (US) for one year and Bernie Ecclestone will invest his own money for further compensation, thought to be in the region of $10-13 million.
"A lot of people thought I was ready to throw in the towel and that I didn't believe in eventually being able to keep the event on the calendar," Legault commented. "Those people didn't know me very well. These last three months have been particularly terrible. But all through this adventure, if you can call it that, I kept in mind the importance of keeping this event in Montreal, conscious of what it means to the community."
The Canadian GP will take place on June 13th 2004, as scheduled, and Legault advised that the price of tickets for the race will increase after 31st January 2004.