France is closing in on a deal to hold a Formula 1 race again, the country's prime minister said on Friday, but work still needs to be done before a contract can be finalized.
During a visit to the Paul Ricard circuit, Francois Fillon said attempts to resurrect the race, which was last held at Magny-Cours in 2008, were progressing but there was still further negotiations needed in terms of finalizing financial terms as well as a venue to share the event with.
"It is not possible to organize a grand prix every year [in France]," he was quoted as saying by the local media. "We are working on the idea of organizing a grand prix every other year at Castellet [Paul Ricard] and every other year in another country."
Fillon said that a provisional deal had been agreed with Bernie Ecclestone, but there was still a gap in the finances of approximately two million euros [$2.7m] between what F1's commercial boss wanted and what race organizers were willing to pay.
"The organizers [Formula One Management] have approved F1, but without saying what the other country will be," explained Fillon, amid ongoing speculation that the French GP could alternate with the race in Belgium. "The proposals are quite reasonable, but it is not done yet."
Until the deal is finalized, Fillon explained that no date could be given for when the French GP could be slotted into the calendar – which means the race may not even happen until 2014. He also made it clear that any French GP plan would not receive financial backing from the government, so must support itself.
"The state will give its support, because it must do that, but we will not go any further," he said.