October 23, 2008 / 6:16 PM / 9 years ago

Montreal mayor hopeful Canada F1 GP can be saved

3 Min Read

LONDON (Reuters) - Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay said he was hopeful the axed Canadian Formula One Grand Prix could be reinstated next year after meeting the sport's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday.

"We've had a constructive meeting, we have a better understanding of the issues," he told reporters.

"We still have a lot of work to do to evaluate all the options, but it is still possible to hold the grand prix in Montreal in 2009 and subsequent years."

Tremblay was accompanied by Quebec economic development minister Raymond Bachand and federal international trade minister Michael Fortier.

The race at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was dropped from a revised calendar this month, leaving North America without a grand prix for the first time in 50 years.

Ecclestone told reporters at the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend that there was no way back for Canada next year, despite France subsequently dropping off the calendar for financial reasons.

"They want 17 races, the teams, and that's what they've got," he said.

Canadian Grand Prix organizers denied at the weekend that they had defaulted on payments owed to Ecclestone for past hosting rights.

"It is true that we have a commercial disagreement regarding our monetary obligations, but only for 2008," said Canada Grand Prix marketing vice-president Paul Wilson in a statement.

"This is the result of an historical difference within the contractual understanding between the two parties.

"We were working hard to resolve the matter in order to meet our 2008 obligations when Mr. Ecclestone, without notice, surprised everyone by unilaterally dropping the Canadian Grand Prix from the 2009 FIA schedule last October 7."

The decision dismayed the teams, with Canada and the United States being important markets for the manufacturers that dominate the sport.

"It's the opposite of what we want to see," BMW-Sauber team boss Mario Theissen, whose team took their first win in Canada this season, said at this month's Japanese Grand Prix.

"The intention should be not to step out of this market but just the opposite -- to use Montreal as door opener for a future U.S. race as well."

Reporting by Alan Baldwin; editing by Padraic Halpin

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