Motor Racing: France is struck off GP roster

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NEXT year's French Grand Prix was officially struck off the world championship calendar yesterday when Fisa, the governing body of motor sport, finally bowed to the momentum of the French anti-tobacco campaign.

As a result, the Fisa president, Max Mosley, hinted that Britain could have a third grand prix after announcing that the race scheduled for Magny-Cours, on 4 July, had been cancelled because the French motor sports federation could not guarantee the free movement of cars and equipment in the area.

'It is not impossible for a French Grand Prix to be held in Germany or in Italy or in England - just as the Swiss Grand Prix was held in Dijon a few years ago,' Mosley said. 'It's not for me to tell the French what they should do, it's for them to decide.'

A law banning tobacco advertising on television in France was invoked by a regional court last month and since then the French parliament has voted against making an exception for the grand prix. Many of the teams, including the world champions, Williams-Renault, are sponsored by tobacco companies and have been warned they face heavy fines if they display such advertising on French soil.

Williams have been told their cars could be impounded if they attempt to test their cars at the Paul Ricard circuit later this month because they defied the regional court by retaining their Camel advertising for the Australian Grand Prix on 8 November.

It is, however, difficult to imagine this is the final word on the French Grand Prix. Magny-Cours emerged as the venue thanks to substantial government funding. Renault will also be anxious to have the event reinstated.

Frank Williams, the Williams team director, said: 'I am very disappointed about the French Grand Prix. However, it's still six months until the grand prix and I'm hopeful something could be rescued.'

Fisa also revealed that it had abandoned the idea of a weight- handicapping system next season, one of the many proposals to ensure closer racing.

Tonight Fisa hands out awards to two British world champions, Nigel Mansell, in Formula One, and Derek Warwick, in sports cars. Mansell insisted yesterday that he would not be embarking upon a Formula One programme as well as the IndyCar championship next season. But he remains under pressure to appear in some Formula One races. Donington Park, venue for the Grand Prix of Europe on Easter Sunday, is particularly keen to have him on the bill.

A number of the Formula One races, including the British Grand Prix, clash with IndyCar dates. Probably more feasible is a return for the last two grands prix, in Japan and Australia, when the American series and his commitment to the Newman-Haas team is over.

Mansell has already been asked to consider Formula One offers for 1994. Renault, concerned about sales in this country, are thought to be more eager than Williams to have him back. McLaren, Ferrari and Benetton-Ford could all be interested in hiring the Englishman.

Another Englishman, Damon Hill, is hoping he has done enough in testing to convince Williams he should partner Alain Prost next season. Hill was fractionally faster than Prost at Estoril last week and has impressed the Frenchman with his contribution to the team effort.

The other candidate is Finland's Mika Hakkinen, who is contracted to Lotus-Ford. Hakkinen is also interesting McLaren, who still await a verdict from Ayrton Senna. If Hakkinen does move, the American, Al Unser Jnr, could join Lotus.