F1 News: Belgian GP reportedly close to contract extension

SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 27: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 27, 2021 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202108270173 // Usage for editorial use only //

Amidst the ever-changing and seemingly ever-growing Formula 1 calendar, Belgium’s Spa Francorchamps circuit has found its position under increasing threat over recent years. However, recent reports indicate its future, at least in the short-term, will be secured.

Belgium is widely regarded as one of the most iconic venues F1 visits, having enjoyed an almost undisturbed place on the annual schedule for decades and been the host of numerous classical Grand Prix.

However, financial constraints and rising competition from other venues to become a host venue at the pinnacle of motorsport have jeopardised its position.

After weeks and months of speculation last season, Spa only received a one-year contract extension – largely validating the concerns about F1’s commitment to the circuit.

Speculation in the early months of the year has linked South Africa’s Kyalami to a return in 2024, an arrival that would put the Belgian GP out of the schedule, which only has one vacant spot for next year.

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)

China’s Shanghai still has a contract to host a race next season, with its return to Formula 1 next season largely seen as a formality.

Per the yearly calendar limit set by the Concorde Agreement, South Africa’s arrival would be at Belgium’s expense.

Fortunately for this fan-favourite, a new report from racingnews365 has explained that Kyalami’s efforts to join F1 have – once again – fallen short.

A variety of factors have thwarted South Africa’s negotiations for several years, and it seems this trend of falling short will continue.

“Political reasons” have been described as Kyalami’s most recent sticking point, with Formula 1 reportedly put off by South Africa’s close political ties to Russia.

Considering that Brazil and China (BRIC member nations, alongside India and Russia) both have slots on the calendar, this objection seems somewhat questionable.

In any case, South Africa’s chances of joining the calendar appear to have dissipated once more, whether for this reason or a combination of others.

Stefano Domenicali has made his approach to constructing the F1 schedule no secret, dismissing the idea that historical venues have a right to preserve their place in the sport.

These comments have been met with some backlash, as fans have raised concerns about the growing number of street tracks and the quickly diminishing number of traditional ones.

Lewis Hamilton has given his input on this issue, explaining that Barcelona, Silverstone and the Hungaroring are circuits that need to be preserved – amidst rumours of Madrid’s efforts to host a race weekend.

With that said, at least relating to Spa, a new contract could safeguard one of the most beloved hosts in the F1 circus.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang