JANUARY 20, 2006
The future of the Belgian GP
The word from Belgium is that the Belgian Grand Prix is off because work at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit cannot be completed in time for the race. Politician Serge Kubla, who is a member of the opposition in the Wallonia regional government, told a radio station in Belgium that the race is off because decisions have taken too long to be implemented and the work needed cannot now be done in the time available. The news, if it is confirmed, will not go down well in the F1 fraternity which is very keen on keeping the race alive, although an extra break from the gruelling calendar will be appreciated.
The promotional company running the event went out of business last year with large losses but it seemed that a solution had been fined when the government offered the deal to promote the race to Ecclestone. It also said it would pay $5m in direct financial aid and $2.5m in sponsorship. This should have guaranteed that the promoter would break even but the government also said that the budget for upgrading work would be limited to $16m which meant that changes had to be pared back to the absolute minimum. Now it seems that the timescale involved has torpedoed that deal.
The race may have been doomed from the start of negotiations but it is a shame that one of the few remaining tracks with real historical value, which usually produces exciting events, has had to be dropped. When all is said and done the thing that has driven the race into this situation is the ever-increasing cost of the fees which circuits must pay in order to get the races. The profits from that operation go largely to Formula One Management.
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