Head organizer for the Canadian Grand Prix François Dumontier, left, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, centre, and her husband Claude Blanchet, right, arrive at the F1 paddocks before Formula One Canadian Grand Prix race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on Sunday, June 9, 2013.
Photograph by: Dario Ayala, The Gazette
MONTREAL — Negotiations to keep the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal for another 10 years “are going well,” Quebec Premier Pauline Marois said Sunday.
Marois was seen chatting with Formula One ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone in the Red Bull paddock area at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve before the start of Sunday’s race.
The obvious subject of conversation was the negotiations to keep the Grand Prix on the F1 calendar beyond the expiration of the existing contract at the end of 2014.
“Until now, things are going well and I hope we will conclude an agreement,” Marois told reporters. “And I told Mr. Ecclestone, we need to conclude a win-win agreement.
“I think he agrees with me. He said we are working very well together, and he hopes, as I do, that we have an agreement in the (coming) weeks.”
Earlier this week, François Dumontier, head of Octane Management, which organizes the Grand Prix here, told The Gazette negotiations with Ecclestone are progressing well.
Dumontier suggested the key issues are not the staging fees — currently $15 million a year, shared by the three levels of government — but rather the infrastructure and facilities at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
“What they asked for was to invest some money in the infrastructure at the track,” he said. “It could be the garage itself, the track hospital, the track itself. But that would happen in the new agreement.
“There is no specific date for it. But the basics of the deal are the same as the one we currently have.”
On Sunday, Dumontier indicated a deal to keep the race in Montreal until 2024 “could be reached within the next week.”
The annual economic impact of the Grand Prix has been put as high as $90 million, though such estimates are short of scientific. Sunday’s race was the 34th to be held on Île Notre-Dame.
“It’s very important,” said Marois, who also met with Monisha Kaltenborn, team principal of the Sauber team, the first woman to hold that position in the history of F1.
“You know, millions of people are looking at this race and they see Montreal, and it’s free publicity for Quebec,” Marois said.
“And in the city of Montreal, it is an important event; we see a lot of investment of money. All the hotels are full. The public is enthusiastic, also.”
As for her own enthusiasm for auto racing, the premier admitted: “I don’t have the time to follow this sport.”
Still, switching to French, she added: “I say, ‘Bonne chance. Que le meilleur gagne.’ ”
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