RACING

Spa could retain its place on the 2023 F1 calendar

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Although the current deal with the venue ends this year and has no place in the yet-to-be-released 24-race calendar for next season, Spa is in fact the first reserve – pending news on other events.

The Chinese GP is supposed to return in 2023 after a three-season absence, but COVID measures remain a major issue in the country, and particularly in the Shanghai region where the race takes place, making it difficult for F1 to fully engage in the organization. the event.

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F1 is also hoping to return to South Africa as early as 2023 after a three-decade absence, but the commercial deal for the Kyalami event has yet to be finalized.

Uncertainty over both has opened the door for Spa, but the Belgian promoter will still have to come up with a package suitable for F1, even if it doesn’t match the fees paid by events outside Europe.

Domenicali said he couldn’t give too many details on the 2023 schedule as it has yet to be finalized, but he insisted Spa still had a chance.

“As you can imagine, I can’t comment too much on that, because there is respect for discussion and formalization through the World Motor Sport Council with the FIA,” he said. “You never saw anything [from] me saying that Belgium will be the last year.

“I would be careful on that comment, I would say, I would be very careful. That’s the only thing I would say. It’s true that we are working and discussing with other promoters to see if they are ready to fully commit.

“There has always been a point that we discussed to find the mix of races where we are going to have at least one third in Europe, one third in the Far East region and the other in the Americas and the Middle East East So we want to be balanced.

“Of course, we are talking about a profession where the investment, the financial contribution, is very important, but we have always said that traditional races, races which we know cannot bring in the money that others bring, have full respect from us.

“So you will see that this will also be respected, not only this year, but also in the future. With Belgium, discussions are still ongoing.

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He added: “There is a lot of respect for these places. But if you remember, in Belgium, there were periods when it was not in the calendar, and they came back. Memory is sometimes short. It’s a great place, no doubt. And that’s why we’re talking.

“What I can say is that we are at Spa this weekend. then you will see them [the promoters] often in my office.

Domenicali suggested the circuit has upped its game this year, partly in response to the rainy 2021 race which left spectators frustrated.

“I have to say they are prepared this weekend in an incredible way,” he said. “Thursday there will be a special day with the drivers, it will be with the fans. We opened this to recover what happened last year, that they did something important.

“And also in terms of the traffic plan, they presented us with a very interesting proposal. I think we’ve seen them in a very, very different approach this year.

“It’s very, very, very useful to know, and very important especially for people who will be all over Spa this weekend.”

French Grand Prix fans in a grandstand

French Grand Prix fans in a grandstand

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Looking further than 2023, Domenicali suggested France could return to the calendar, having previously mentioned Nice as a possible venue for a street race.

He said: “We are talking with the French Federation and with the government, because more and more the future is also linked to promoters who see this as an investment for the country, for the community.

“So the discussions are very, very open for a great future. And as you know, a possibility not next year but in the future could also be to find some kind of rotation proposal that could allow everyone world to be part of the calendar. Because I think it’s a matter of respect.

Imminent announcements of Audi and Porsche F1 programs from 2026 have also sparked interest in a return of the German GP, ​​but Domenicali stressed the commercial terms had to be right.

“We really hope that Germany can be back around the table,” he said. “But one thing to say is that we would like to have the [German] Grand Prize. The other thing is to put on the table the things you need to discuss the Grand Prix.

“So hopefully soon – with something that could happen soon – they will have a different situation to discuss with us.”

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