Canada delegation heads for Hungary

A group representing the Canadian Grand Prix will head for Budapest this weekend to meet with Bernie Ecclestone and team bosses in the hope of reinstating the race to the Formula One calendar. Race promoter Normand Legault hopes to get bosses and...

A group representing the Canadian Grand Prix will head for Budapest this weekend to meet with Bernie Ecclestone and team bosses in the hope of reinstating the race to the Formula One calendar. Race promoter Normand Legault hopes to get bosses and car manufacturers on his side to persuade Ecclestone to change his mind about dropping the event.

Tobacco advertising bans are responsible for the situation and teams would have to run in Canada without sponsorship logos due to the ban coming into force in October. Ecclestone invoked a drop-out clause in the contract pertaining to such a situation and the race was withdrawn.

Justice Minister Martin Cauchon will head the delegation: "I actually can't wait to have the meeting with Mr. Ecclestone," he told the Globe and Mail. "I want to see what he is going to say about the exemptions that exist for France, for example, for the U.K. and even for the States."

Cauchon intends to point out that the Montreal event is worth as much to Formula One as the race is to Canada: "It's fine to say (the Grand Prix) has $80-million in economic benefits for Montreal," he said. "But there are also economic benefits for the Grand Prix. The Grand Prix of Canada is an exceptional vehicle for Mr. Ecclestone. It works both ways."

Spa-Francorchamps, which was dropped from the 2003 calendar due to tobacco advertising bans in Belgium, could be back on the schedule next year, according to minister Serge Kubla. Belgium recently voted again on tobacco bans and the motion was passed to allow advertising for special events.

Should the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve end up definitely losing the GP, Legault is already contemplating other choices: "There are various alternatives," he said, according to Autosport. "We could look at bikes or maybe the IRL -- should it decide to do road courses. We could even try to convince NASCAR to come here. They have road races on their calendar, so who knows?"

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Gilles Villeneuve , Bernie Ecclestone