Legislation banning tobacco advertising has put paid to the Canadian Grand Prix for the foreseeable future, but F1 should return to Spa Francorchamps when the Belgian Grand Prix resumes next year.

Legislation banning tobacco advertising has put paid to the Canadian Grand Prix for the foreseeable future, but F1 should return to Spa Francorchamps when the Belgian Grand Prix resumes next year.


The decision to remove the Montreal event from the 2004 F1 World Championship calendar was made because of tough new anti-tobacco legislation that will become Canadian law on October 1.


F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's company, Formula One Management, sent a letter to the organisers of the race last week informing them that the event would not be included on the schedule because of the laws which preclude any tobacco advertising, including the appearance of logos, at any sporting event in Canada.


Chief executive of the event, Normand Legault, said: "The letter wasn't a surprise. He (Ecclestone) is invoking a contractual matter which he has the right to raise. I don't view it as a threat but as a final decision on his part."


Legault was also doubtful that the event would be able to return to the schedule in 2005 and said that it would require teams to agree to run their cars without any tobacco logos. Five teams, Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, BAR-Honda and Jordan all have substantial backing from the tobacco industry and it is unlikely that they would agree to this.


The Belgian Grand Prix was dropped from this year's calendar due to anti-tobacco legislation, and although the race will return in 2004, it is only because of new laws created by the Belgian government to side-step the issue.


"I think there is a small chance of getting the race back on the 2004 calendar," Legault added. "That would be if Bernie Ecclestone accepted that the cars would race without tobacco advertising in the race like they do in France and Great Britain. However, without that advertising we would have to find R140 million in sponsorship from somewhere else."


Legault said he would need support from a variety of sources to change the situation, and is willing to fly to the Hungarian Grand Prix to lobby for support.


"At a Grand Prix, you'll have not only the team principals but also a number of the engine manufacturers as well as the tyre people," he added. "It's a lot of one-on-one. It's door-to-door salesmanship."