Confusion continues over Canada 2004

Confusion continues over Canada 2004

Whether the Canadian Grand Prix will be on the Formula One calendar in 2004 still appears to be undecided, with key figures disagreeing on what the situation is. Race promoter Normand Legault announced this week that he had received a letter from...

Whether the Canadian Grand Prix will be on the Formula One calendar in 2004 still appears to be undecided, with key figures disagreeing on what the situation is. Race promoter Normand Legault announced this week that he had received a letter from Bernie Ecclestone stating the event would not appear on next year's schedule.

The man himself: Bernie Ecclestone.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
Shortly afterwards, Ecclestone claimed he had no idea where the story had come from and said the 2004 calendar had not been finalised yet. Presently, Legault is unavailable for comment but his office reiterated the previous announcement that the Canadian GP had been dropped and there had been no further developments.

"In reaction to comments attributed to Mr. Bernie Ecclestone, and repeated to several Internet Web sites, the Grand Prix of Canada wishes to state that it has not received any notice setting aside the decision of Formula One Management concerning the inclusion of the event on the 2004 World Championship calendar." Said a statement issued yesterday.

The statement also said if Ecclestone was indeed saying the race was still on, it would presumably mean F1 had agreed to race in Montreal and respect the tobacco advertising ban. If that happens it would be good for Legault, who said he would not try to get exemption from the ban. However, with Legault's sudden unavailability to comment further, it appears no-one is any the wiser to what's going on.

It does seem strange that Canada would be dropped when the recent decision to move the US Grand Prix from its traditional September date to June was apparently so Indianapolis and Montreal could run back-to-back.

View from GS 12 section 4 - downtown.
Photo by .
Some Montreal businesses have already appealed to the government to postpone the tobacco advertising laws until 2006, when the ban comes into full effect.

However, Prime Minister Jean Chr?tien does not seem likely to reverse the decision. "We passed the law and everybody voted for it," he said. "If you were to change laws every time there was pressure, there wouldn't be much order in the country. We'll see but I believe the law is valid."

Honda Racing vice-president Otmar Szafnauer argued that other countries that have been dropped for the same reason, such as Belgium, have begun renegotiating the tobacco bans in order to have their races reinstated in the future. "There's nothing wrong with lobbying the government and saying, 'Look we love this race and because of what the other countries have done, Canada may have to give a one-time exemption for F1,'" he said.

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Bernie Ecclestone