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A woman rollerblades down the deserted pit lane at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal last fall after word the Grand Prix had abandoned the city. ((Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press) )

Montreal would likely not be interested in acting as a fill-in site for a 2009 Formula One auto race unless a long-term deal came along as part of the package, the city's mayor said Sunday.

Gerald Tremblay was responding to rumours sweeping the paddock at the season-opening race in Australia that the global economic slowdown may make it difficult for organizers of a new race in Abu Dhabi to be ready to go by the end of October.

That would put Montreal, the rumours say, in line to pick up the race, perhaps having it moved from its current Oct. 30-Nov. 1 date to one much earlier in the month.

Tremblay told the Montreal Gazette on Sunday he was surprised to hear the news.

"We have been talking with [F1] boss Bernie Ecclestone about [the race] coming back in 2011 or 2010," he said.

But Tremblay added "If for one reason or another the Grand Prix [comes calling], we don't want to have it just in 2009. We want a long-term agreement that respects our ability to pay."

Montreal lost its race this off-season after 30 years in a dispute over fees with Ecclestone. That left North America without any F1 because the United States Grand Prix was eliminated from the schedule after 2007.

RDS, the Quebec-based French all-sports television channel, said Abu Dhabi had fallen behind on the building of the race track and its attached hotels.

Newspapers in the United Arab Emirates, and the race's website, had nothing on the situation as of Sunday afternoon.

There has been no official comment from Formula One.

With files from the Canadian Press