Spa-Francorchamps will retain its place on the Formula 1 calendar for 2023, news which pleased the 2022 race winner Max Verstappen.
Exclusive host of the Belgian Grand Prix since 1985, Spa-Francorchamps is one of the most iconic stops in a Formula 1 season, though the event was very much under threat.
Formula 1’s popularity is arguably now at an all-time high, which means a lot of competition to host a grands prix with limited slots.
And with Spa’s contract to host the Belgian Grand Prix up after 2022, there were growing concerns that it would drop off the calendar.
But, in the approach to lights out for the 2022 race, it was announced that Spa would host a Belgian Grand Prix in 2023, so Verstappen’s favourite circuit will be on the calendar for at least another season.
He hopes though that there will never be a time where a Belgian Grand Prix is absent from Formula 1.
Asked if he believed the widespread driver support for Spa had influenced Formula 1’s decision, Verstappen replied: “I hope it influenced it but yeah, it’s my favourite track on the calendar.
“It’s amazing, especially when the car’s really hooked up like yesterday in qualifying, it was really enjoyable to drive.
“So yeah, from my side, I hope of course we will never stop coming here but of course, at the end of the day, it’s not up to me, but I’m very happy that it’s here and that it’s happening next year.”
Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez is not so sure that the drivers had a part to play in Spa securing a contract extension, though is certainly happy that this outcome came to pass.
“Yeah, I wish to think differently, but I think it was not for the drivers that they’ve kept the place in the calendar,” said Perez. “So it’s great to have to have Spa, I think.
“It’s a unique place that we all enjoy coming [to]. The fans, the pure fans really enjoy coming here.”
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz similarly is happy to see that Spa will be sticking around and praised the circuit for the changes made ahead of Formula 1’s latest visit, which included the laying of new gravel traps and reprofiling of the Eau Rouge-Raidillion section.
“Same. I think it’s one of the best tracks in the calendar,” said Sainz.
“I think they’ve also done a very good job with the changes they’ve done on track. I think putting gravel, getting rid of some tarmac run-offs, making Eau Rouge safer, I think it’s all changes that are in the right direction and I think we need to congratulate the circuit for that.
“And it makes it for a better show, and we look forward to come back in the future and hopefully it can stay in the calendar long.”
Verstappen dominated the 2022 Belgian GP, setting the fastest time of qualifying, some six tenths faster than Sainz, before winning the race by almost 18 seconds despite starting P14 due to an engine penalty.