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Ecclestone eyes Paris GP

NEWS STORY
01/03/2008

Despite the fact that Bernie Ecclestone prophesised that Europe would ultimately become the new 'third world' - a prediction that becomes worryingly more accurate with every passing day - the F1 supremo is well aware that there is still plenty of money to be found in the various capital cities as more and more of the nouveau riche from the rising nations seek to come here and become part of 'the scene'.

Therefore, while windswept old airfields in the middle of the English countryside and godforsaken former go-kart tracks in the French back of beyond hold little appeal to Ecclestone, not to mention the people who he feels should be watching F1 these days, the gay, glittering streets of London and Paris are a different matter.

While Ecclestone seeks to take the sport all points east, clearly feeling that Europe no longer has a divine right to F1, it is clear that the only way he will allow the sport to retain a toe-hold is by moving it up market, away from dusty, dirty, hard to get to purpose-built race tracks and into the more glamorous European capital cities.

Consequently, not for the first time, the F1 supremo has admitted that he is looking to see F1 cars race through the streets of Paris, while holding out hope that London can also be persuaded to host a race.

"A grand prix in London or Paris would be better for spectators and for television," Ecclestone has told the German sports news agency SID. "I hope we will be able to put something in place in Paris."

Originally, there were fears that France would be dropped from the 2008 calendar, mainly due to attendance figures. However, a deal was done giving the Magny-Cours track an apparent two-year stay of execution, providing no alternative venue could be found. However, Ecclestone's latest comments suggest that the French track's time is finally up.

"We need a site for the French Grand Prix as we won't go back to Magny-Cours," he said. "The government has understood. We had originally decided not to go back to Magny-Cours this year. But I hope an agreement with Paris for 2009 is possible."

With Monaco still the Jewel in Formula One's crown, this year the Principality gets competition in the form of a race through the smart newly renovated port area in Valencia.

While there are massive hurdles to be overcome as to the exact layout of the proposed circuits and who would pay - obviously, in the case of London the ever hard-pressed taxpayer - many governments still fall for Bernie's hard sell, convinced that F1 will give the country kudos, glamour and bring in the tourists.

Paris has the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, Bernie will be only to quick to tell the governors of Paris, one of the most historic and beautiful cities on earth, that what it really needs is an F1 race. Sadly, they'll probably believe him.

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