New turn in the ultra-sensitive affair of the French F1 Grand Prix?

2023-10-03 11:39:00

New turn in the ultra-sensitive affair of the French F1 Grand Prix? While the various actors have been waging a battle behind the scenes for almost a year, the president of the Var departmental council, Jean-Louis Masson, sent a letter last Thursday (the eighth) to Christian Estrosi, president of the Public Interest Group (GIP) responsible for promoting and supervising the organization of the Formula 1 GP at Le Castellet, from 2018 to 2022. With a copy, the two audit firms (Fidal and Sémaphores) commissioned by the Region to examine the 32 million euros in debt. Objective: to have the last word, at all costs.

In this confidential document, of which we have read, Jean-Louis Masson wishes “establish as best as possible the reality of the facts”. Or rather restore that of its stable, before sending a corrected version of the final financial audit report, presented in mid-September to the board of directors.

Var on the offensive

He points “the lack of real analysis of travel expense invoices” while additional items added to the file “appear largely very partial and provide few answers to the problems and questions raised”, particularly in matters of public procurement and human resources. Jean-Louis Masson believes that“to date, at least three staff or service providers have not, a priori, produced any identified written work justifying the significant remuneration received by them”.

The president of Var thus wants to counter the defense of Éric Boullier, general director of the GIP of the French Grand Prix. Three weeks earlier, the latter had responded on thirty pages to the financial audit report in “a concern for transparency”. He was surprised not to find “a certain number of elements, documents and responses provided”emphasized “des approximations” on the subject of personnel and denounced the lack of independence of the Fidal firm, previously excluded from a call for tenders for the Grand Prix.

The explanations in question

The GIP management’s counterattack mainly focused on the various public contracts covered in the report, particularly in terms of legal advice, which amount to more than 3 million euros. To justify the contract signed with the firm CPC & Associés without competitive bidding, Éric Boullier evokes the application of“a derogatory procedure” because of “at perfect knowledge of the world of F1″. For the one concluded with Motorsport, it would be “the only player on the market” to meet promotion and ticket sales requirements. Same assessment regarding the lifting equipment manufacturer JCB, also presented as “a single supplier”.

Ball in the center? On the side of the mayor of Nice and president of the Riviera Metropolis, who paid an advance of 5 million euros to pay several providers of the F1 Grand Prix and clear part of the slate, the annoyance has gone up a notch: “Are the Varois there? When are they going to update themselves on their obligations? Obviously, they have difficulty understanding, but after a while, you have to pay!”

Justice will have the last word

While waiting for the second version of the final report of the financial audit and a future board of directors which should record the dissolution of the GIP, the entourage of Christian Estrosi describes the departmental council of 83 as a “stowaway”who has “benefited from the benefits while washing their hands”.

Contacted, Éric Boullier did not wish to comment. One of his relatives denounces all the same “a political cabal”, “intended to destroy reputations when there is nothing in the report”, “zero management errors”. From the opening of an investigation by the Marseille prosecutor’s officeit is justice that will have the last word.

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