Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that the Canadian Grand Prix will be dropped from the Formula One calendar in 2004.
Race organisers revealed they had received a letter from the F1 supremo last week confirming the decision to drop the event because of a ban on tobacco advertising in Canada, which will come into force next year.
Ecclestone initially denied the claim, insisting the calendar for next year had not yet been decided.
But on Thursday he issued a statement through his F1 management company confirming that the race was to be axed.
"I can confirm that a letter was written to the Canadian race
promoter following a meeting I had with him when I informed him the Canadian round of the FIA Formula One Championship would not be included in the 2004 calendar," it read.
"The reason for this is that the Canadian government has brought into effect a total prohibition on tobacco-related sponsorship.
"There is a provision in our contract with the race promoter that should this become effective, we have the right not to include their event in the calendar for the relevant year."
Ecclestone insisted tobacco advertising was the sole reason for the decision, blaming a drop in revenue for teams with logos who are forced to comply with local bans.
He added: "Our problem is quite simple. The Formula One teams with
tobacco-related sponsorship lose part of their revenue when a certain percentage of the events ban tobacco sponsorship.
"This was the reason the Belgian Grand Prix was not included in the 2003 calendar."
Ecclestone admitted he would be sorry to see the end of Montreal as a Grand Prix venue.
He said: "One thing is for sure - everyone is sorry to lose the Canadian race as we all love Montreal and the warm support the city has always given Formula One."