DECEMBER 1, 1997
Belgium ban goes ahead
"Belgium is giving a good signal to Europe to allow a European directive banning tobacco advertising and sponsoring on a European level," said Louis Van Velthoven, the socialist politician behind the law.
The news has been greeted with resignation at Spa. "I fear next year's Belgian Grand Prix will be the last," said Spa president Joseph Moxhet.
While Spa may survive simply because it is one of the few great tracks still operating in Europe - and because the race is promoted by one of Bernie Ecclestone's companies - there is no doubt that it will be a major blow to young Belgian drivers as the tobacco companies have funded the early careers of virtually all the Belgian stars of the modern era, notably ThierryÊBoutsen, Bertrand Gachot and Marc Goossens - all of whom were heavily supported in their careers by Marlboro. Only Eric Van de Poele made it to F1 without any major tobacco money.