FORMULA 1

Belgian Grand Prix future – Spa to go the ‘American Way’?

Franz Tost Germany

In a bid to save the iconic Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps is going the ‘American way’.

The iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit was one of the first 7 circuits on the inaugural season of F1 back in 1950. Since then Belgian Grand Prix has only missed out 6 times. None of the times Belgian GP was removed from the calendar beforehand.

On the iconic track, Spa-Francorchamps, it’s the 55th appearance of the track in an F1 race. This makes this circuit the 4th highest on the all-time list.

Nevertheless, the new owners of F1 Liberty Media are seeking to expand the calendar. With new races outside Europe, Spa’s Belgian Grand Prix is one of the traditional European races under severe threat.

Liberty Media might ditch one of the greatest race tracks on the F1 calendar for more ‘entertainment’. To add races in the USA (Las Vegas), Qatar, and an expected comeback of South African GP.

As expected, the idea has not gone well with the drivers who want the Belgian GP and the track to stay. Sebastian Vettel had earlier made a statement too, saying “it would be a shame.” Max Verstappen also said the same about the decision.

Belgian Grand Prix organizers trying their best

Organizers are going all out to try and persuade Liberty Media to secure the future of the Belgian Grand Prix.

“It’s true that there has been a request from F1 to bring more entertainment,”

says commercial director Stijn de Boever.

“They said history is great, but we need more. We have decided to listen and follow their new way of delivering F1 events. The American way, with all the entertainment that goes with it.

“We are planning all sorts of entertainment, with DJs, exclusive events, fans zones and activations around the circuit. You can say our legendary Grand Prix will also get the necessary bling. If we want to continue hosting races in the future, we have to modernise.”

Renovation of Spa

During winter, Spa underwent a major renovation. Although, the renovation was mainly focused on bringing back the 24-hour motorcycle race. But, a huge work was also done on improving the fans experience.

“The new Raidillon grandstand offers incredible views and the circuit itself has also been working hard on improving its facilities and becoming more sustainable,”

de Boever explained.

“As far as traffic goes, we have been working with the local police to add car parks further away from the track on solid ground, near Malmedy, with shuttle buses transporting fans to and from the track. In 2019 it went quite well when it was dry, but now we have more options to provide better parking on hard soil.

“Of course, it’s still Spa. We don’t have trains that can take care of tens of thousands of people.”

With these major changes, fans hope that Spa will be able to secure its future in Formula 1.

“F1 has been very pleased with our plans,”

said, de Boever.

“They are happy we are continuing to invest in a better fan experience, despite race day being sold out since December.

“It’s happened before that we headed into a Grand Prix without having certainty about the following year, so it’s not a big issue. We’re looking for a yearly race, not alternating with another GP, but we’re going to listen to what F1 proposes.

“Liberty Media clearly has found a new way to organise F1 races and we are going to follow them.

“Yes, we have something to prove. We don’t have petrodollars, but we can show that we are a legendary Grand Prix that can entertain 100,000 fans per day. It’s a big plus that they’ll be able to experience it first-hand in August.”

After the disastrous race of 2021, fans deserve a good racing experience this year. After the summer break is over F1 will be back on this legendary track.

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