Plan for new Paris Formula One track angers environmentalists
A plan to build a new Formula One race track outside Paris has turned into a row between France’s sports car-mad prime minister and two cabinet members who say it would be an ecological disaster.
By Henry Samuel in Paris
Last Updated : 6:54AM BST 18 May 2009
France’s Prime Minister Francois Fillon Photo : REUTERS
François Fillon, the prime minister - who has competed in the Le Mans Legend historic sports car race and reportedly "dreams" of one day becoming the head of the FIA, the world motor sport body - has discreetly spearheaded a campaign to erect a new Grand Prix circuit near the French capital.
Last year France was axed from the Grand Prix calendar after the French motorsport federation withdrew its support of the race at the Magny-Cours track due to lack of funds. Organisers had hoped that a new track near Paris would be ready by 2011.
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The circuit’s architect said, on the contrary, that it would be "the world’s first totally ecological race track" while one organiser accused Mr Borloo of "quasi-abuse of power" by vetoing the project before hearing the conclusions of independent experts.
Hundreds of environmentalists demonstrated over the weekend in Versailles against the track with banners saying : "F1 : Non, Organic (farming) : Yes".
Alain Prost, the former quadruple world champion who has lobbied for the Paris area track, said that it had become the victim of a "political problem".
"Things have to be clear at the government level," he told Le Journal du Dimanche. "It’s typical of France." "A Grand Prix around Paris would be as strong (a message) as the football World Cup," he added. Mr Prost recently declared that France was "anti-cars".