Belgian GP organisers “much more optimistic” of F1 contract extension

Jaden Diaz
10 Apr, 2023

The Formula 1 calendar has undergone plenty of changes over the past few seasons, particularly during the covid-affected 2020 and 2021 campaigns. Amidst all of these changes, the future of Belgium’s Spa circuit remains uncertain.

Formula 1’s growth in popularity – particularly in the United States – has further incentivized Liberty Media to explore different corners of the globe for new Grand Prix venues.

This has sparked plenty of debate, with fans frustrated that some of the most popular circuits (i.e Hockenheim, Sepang) have been absent from the schedule for several years.

An increase in street circuits and a decline in more traditional venues are among the main areas of contention. Perhaps the greatest example of this debate is the contested future of Belgium’s Spa Francorchamps.

Spa is widely regarded as one of the most iconic races on the calendar, featuring legendary corners and classic battles between all-time greats.

SPA, BELGIUM – AUGUST 29: The FIA ​​​​Safety Car leads Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda and the rest of the field at the restart during the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa- Francorchamps on August 29, 2021 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

However, there have been concerns about Spa’s future in F1 for some time. At this time last year, the Belgian GP was without a contract for the 2023 season and fighting to stay in the sport.

A one-year extension was eventually announced, but the short-term nature of this contract means that, once again, there are question marks about the future of this iconic venue.

The decision to only offer Spa a one-year deal offers little assurance about its place on the calendar, especially given Stefano Domenicali’s vision for a more international calendar.

However, as quoted by the Belgian outlet HLN, organizers of the Spa circuit are hopeful that a new contract can be achieved:

“I am now much more optimistic than a year ago,” said Vanessa Maes, the director of the Spa Grand Prix.

“A delegation from the F1 group came by this month. For two days, to take a look at what we have changed at the circuit to make the next race an even greater success than in 2022. 

“We are convinced that Spa Francorchamps now fully meets the requirements of the F1 Group. 

“We meet all the conditions. A new meeting is planned to happen soon with the personnel from the F1 Group.”

Due to the growing demand to host Formula 1 races, established circuits like Spa face far greater competition to maintain their place in the schedule.

Given the continued expansion of the F1 calendar, the introduction of new race venues inevitably comes at the expense of established ones.

Stefano Domenicali continues to hold talks with a variety of potential host cities, with talks of a ‘Caribbean Grand Prix’ last year demonstrating the options at his disposal.

Whilst rumors such as these do not necessarily spell the end for the Belgian GP, ​​they emphasize the need for urgent action to secure Spa’s future.

The popularity of the Dutch GP represents a viable and successful race weekend in a similar region to Spa. Therefore, at least from a commercial perspective, the Francorchamps circuit is replaceable.

Domenicali has spoken on multiple occasions over the past few years about how “history is not enough” to host an F1 race:

“We are a business where investments and financial contributions are very important.

“But we have always said that traditional races, where we know they cannot bring the money the others are beginning, have full respect from us,” the Guardian quoted the F1 CEO as saying last year.

It goes without saying that historic venues like Spa Francorchamps could struggle to match the financial muscle of other bidders.

This makes the above comments from event organizer Vanessa Meas all the more welcome, given that the Belgian GP’s future is by no means guaranteed.

Following the extension of Austria’s contract earlier this year, Spa is the only circuit on the calendar currently without a deal to continue in F1 beyond 2023.

As a result, the addition of any new track for 2024 would come at Belgian GP’s expense.

Regardless, the upcoming weeks and months should provide more clarity on this situation – as fans hold their breath for the future of a classic circuit in Formula 1.



Privacy Policy Cookie Policy