The French Grand Prix's return to the Formula 1 calendar is expected to move a step closer on Friday, with the country's prime minister, Francois Fillon, planning to make an announcement at Paul Ricard about the event.
Following months of talks about a return of the French GP – which has been absent from the F1 schedule since 2008 – media have been invited to the circuit in the south of France for a press conference to talk about the future of the race. Fillon will be joined by Hubert Falco, president of the local Toulon province. Although it is not clear how far advanced the negotiations are, there is mounting speculation that Fillon will announce that France is now ready to host an F1 race again as soon as next season.
Any deal that may have been agreed with F1 commercial rights manager Bernie Ecclestone would need ratification by the FIA later this year, when the 2013 calendar is announced, but this would likely be a formality.
Paul Ricard last hosted an F1 race in 1990, before the French GP moved to Magny-Cours. Financial problems in funding the race fee meant that the event dropped off the calendar in 2009.
France's bid to get its race back on the schedule has been boosted by the presence of three French drivers in F1 this year – Romain Grosjean, Jean-Eric Vergne and Charles Pic.