Belgian Grand Prix official admits contract renewal talks are ‘not easy’

Jon Wilde
Safety Car on track during the Belgian GP. Spa-Francorchamps Belgian Grand Prix August 2021.

Safety Car on track during the Belgian Grand Prix. Spa-Francorchamps August 2021.

Talks over a new contract for the Belgian Grand Prix are proving to be tricky, a Spa-Francorchamps official has admitted.

A highly popular race with fans and drivers, the Belgian GP was on the very first Formula 1 World Championship calendar in 1950.

That was at its current home of Spa-Francorchamps and since then, there have been only six years when it was not held – none of those consecutively – with its other host venues having been Zolder and Nivelles.

But the race is reported to be in serious danger of being squeezed out of the calendar, due to the clamour for a grand prix in various other locations throughout the world.

 

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Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has said he wants the 2023 schedule to comprise 24 races and in addition to this season’s 22, a place also needs to be found for Qatar, Las Vegas and potentially also China and South Africa.

If either, or both, of the latter two countries are to be visited next year, it would mean one or two of this year’s hosts having to give way – with France, Belgium and Monaco believed to be most under threat.

Discussions are taking place with Belgian Grand Prix officials over a potential new deal. It is among the three venues whose contract expires in 2022 along with the other two in Europe mentioned above, while Mexico is next on the danger list with a deal that runs out after 2023.

“We are in discussions with F1’s promoter, Formula One, and those discussions are not easy,” said Vanessa Maes, general manager of Spa Grand Prix, quoted by hln.be.

“The constant rumours don’t make it any easier. Sometimes I read we will stay, other times that we should have no illusions and other times that we are in between.

“I don’t participate in these speculations. I am convinced Formula 1 has a real appetite for a future with a grand prix in Belgium and more specifically at Spa.

“Also, in the political world, all forces are mobilised to keep Spa-Francorchamps on the F1 calendar. This is no more than logical given the incredible history and mythical aura of this race.”

Last year’s race proved to be a washout after a wet weekend, called off with not a single racing lap completed – although there was still a podium ceremony with half points awarded as Max Verstappen was hailed as the winner for Red Bull ahead of George Russell in a Williams.

Nevertheless, although there was criticism from fans over the way they were treated with regard to refunds, ticket sales have been as fast and furious as the action will be on track.

The event was a sell-out within three days, with 100,000 spectators expected to attend each day.