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Sunday, February 25, 2024

How Spa plans to wow F1 and save the Belgian GP’s future

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Belgium was one among six grands prix on Method 1’s first world championship in 1950, together with the likes of France and Monaco. All three races at the moment are underneath risk, their contracts operating down because the sequence’ marketing-savvy proprietor Liberty Media is prioritising industrial issues over historical past or status.

Whereas Monaco may wish to argue its legacy makes it indispensable, Spa-Francorchamps just isn’t prepared to make the identical mistake.

With Qatar, Las Vegas and China (re)becoming a member of a provisional 2023 calendar that maxes out at 24 races, and many extra curiosity world wide to extend that quantity even additional, conserving a spot on the calendar has turn into exceedingly troublesome for conventional races outdoors of the so-called vacation spot races as Liberty likes to name them – races in main worldwide markets, near or inside the guts of main metropoles.

Using the wave of Method 1’s newfound world attraction, the Individuals are decided to show each grand prix right into a mini-Tremendous Bowl, bling and all, whether or not that fits conventional race followers and venues or not.

The inaugural Miami GP has given a glimpse of the course F1 needs to take

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Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

In contract talks with Spa Grand Prix, the government-backed organisation behind the Belgian GP, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and his workforce have made it crystal clear that Spa is predicted to comply with the identical leisure pushed idea if it needs to have a future. And Spa is prepared to purchase into that concept.

“It is true that there was a request from F1 to carry extra leisure,” says Spa Grand Prix’s industrial director Stijn de Boever.

“They mentioned historical past is nice, however we’d like extra. We now have determined to pay attention and comply with their new method of delivering F1 occasions. The American method, with all of the leisure that goes with it.

“We’re planning all types of leisure, with DJs, unique occasions, followers zones and activations across the circuit. You may say our legendary grand prix may also get the mandatory bling. If we wish to proceed internet hosting races sooner or later, we’ve to modernise.”

Whereas Spa acknowledges it additionally must make up for its farcical 2021 version, which was referred to as after three rain-soaked laps behind the security automobile, its new push to win over the followers and the industrial rights holder stems from considerations in regards to the future relatively than the previous.

The 2021 race was called after three laps behind the safety car, with fans not being reimbursed.

The 2021 race was referred to as after three laps behind the security automobile, with followers not being reimbursed.

Picture by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images

The long-term €80million renovation venture of the monitor, which allowed the return of the Spa 24 Hours for bikes but in addition advantages automobile racing and spectators alike, can be a key piece of the puzzle, as is a concentrated effort to stem the woeful visitors issues that plagued final 12 months’s race, with torrential rain turning automobile parks into mud baths.

“The brand new Raidillon grandstand gives unbelievable views and the circuit itself has additionally been working arduous on bettering its services and turning into extra sustainable,” de Boever factors out.

“So far as visitors goes, we’ve been working with the native police so as to add automobile parks additional away from the monitor on strong floor, close to Malmedy, with shuttle buses transporting followers to and from the monitor. In 2019 it went fairly effectively when it was dry, however now we’ve extra choices to offer higher parking on arduous soil.

“In fact, it is nonetheless Spa. We do not have trains that may maintain tens of hundreds of individuals.”

The circuit has received a facelift in the off-season, including a brand-new grandstand overlooking the Raidillon.

The circuit has acquired a facelift within the low season, together with a brand-new grandstand overlooking the Raidillon.

Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Whether or not all of that is sufficient to wow F1 and be awarded with a brand new contract stays to be seen. Spa has been in common talks with F1, with occasion director Vanessa Maes travelling to Imola and de Boever current within the Barcelona paddock, whereas chairman and Walloon politician Melchior Wathelet has additionally been in shut contact with Domenicali.

The Spa camp’s optimism {that a} new settlement might be reached is not shared by each observer within the paddock, however it would not be the primary time in current historical past the race’s obituary has been ready, just for a brand new deal to be signed.

“F1 has been very happy with our plans,” mentioned de Boever. “They’re comfortable we’re persevering with to put money into a greater fan expertise, regardless of race day being bought out since December.

“It is occurred earlier than that we headed right into a grand prix with out having certainty in regards to the following 12 months, so it is not an enormous challenge. We’re on the lookout for a yearly race, not alternating with one other GP, however we’ll hearken to what F1 proposes.

“Liberty Media clearly has discovered a brand new solution to organise F1 races and we’re going to comply with them.

“Sure, we’ve one thing to show. We do not have petrodollars, however we will present that we’re a legendary grand prix that may entertain 100,000 followers per day. It is a massive plus that they’re going to be capable of expertise it first-hand in August.”



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