French GP ’not dead’ yet - Boullier
"There may be 30 grands prix for 25 dates"
The French GP is "not dead", the Paul Ricard race’s director Eric Boullier has insisted.
As Formula 1 gathered at the venue in Le Castellet on Thursday, most drivers were resigned to the fact that it may be their last in France.
"It might not be on the calendar next year, so it will be important to enjoy every second of it," said French driver Pierre Gasly.
But while some rued the likely loss of one of F1’s most historic host nations, others seem less bothered about no longer racing at Paul Ricard.
"In fairness, this track is not so exciting," said quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel. "I don’t think many drivers are huge fans, at least behind the camera."
There have, however, been efforts to relocate the event to a city like Nice, but most insiders consider that to be unlikely.
The race’s boss, former McLaren team principal and Frenchman Boullier, insists that negotiations are still taking place.
"We are not dead," he smiled to Agence France-Presse, revealing that a crowd of 200,000 this weekend is a French GP record.
As for France’s percentage chance of staying on the calendar, Boullier added: "I wouldn’t give a percentage.
"The president of FOM (Stefano Domenicali) made it clear that France deserves to be there. FOM are also working on expanding their calendar in terms of the number of Grands Prix and therefore on several solutions."
One of those solutions is thought to be a pool of up to 30 grand prix hosts, with some then annually rotating a single place every two or more years.
"There is no ideal solution," Boullier said.
"We have all the scenarios under discussion with FOM, who strategically speaking would like to have more grands prix and then alternation could be a solution for several of them.
"From the moment when the will on both sides is to keep a grand prix in France, whether every two years, every three years, five years or every year, we’ll see.
"We have to register for the future possibility that there may be 30 grands prix for 25 dates. So we’re not dead, we’re discussing."