Spa-Francorchamps, 2021

‘Too bad’, ‘just a question of money’: F1 drivers fear next Spa grand prix will be the last RaceFans

While the 2023 Formula 1 calendar has yet to be officially confirmed, many drivers have already expressed their disappointment at the highly anticipated loss of the Belgian Grand Prix.

This year’s race at Spa-Francorchamps will be the first after F1’s summer break, by which time the future of the event may already be known. With the excitement for this year’s race, following the elimination of a lap from the 2021 edition, comes uncertainty over whether it could be the last to be held at Spa for the foreseeable future.

When Lando Norris – who has Belgian heritage from his mother’s side – was asked during the French Grand Prix whether he would prefer to keep the Belgian or French round at Paul Ricard on the 2023 calendar, the decision was easy for the McLaren driver.

“Spa, easy,” he said. “My mother comes from Belgium, so I am 50% Flemish. It’s as much a home race for me as Silverstone in a way.

“I personally have a lot more connection with that, of course, and I like the track and so on, I grew up a lot of time or I grew up for many years going to Belgium and spending there lots of time with my family.”

The seven-kilometre circuit has undergone major work to improve safety following multiple serious and fatal accidents on the site, notably during the famous sequence over the ultra-fast Eau Rouge and Raidillon bends . Several iconic bends like the Raidillon have been reprofiled, with gravel traps returned to various locations around the circuit. Norris said he was “excited” to have the opportunity to race on the revised track.

“Some changes, some bits have been resurfaced and so on,” he said. “Nice, new platform on the Raidillon. I always look forward to Spa, it’s one of the coolest circuits of the whole season.

“I will be sad [to lose Spa]. A lot of things are just about money these days, that’s the problem. It’s a company.

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Norris wonders why a circuit as historically important to Formula 1 as Spa has its place on the calendar under threat, when other venues with an equally strong heritage don’t seem to be in question.

First images: Spa-Francorchamps’ new look for 2022 unveiled after £20m renovation

“It’s a shame,” he continued. “But this is a historic race for F1. Like Monaco – as far as I know they don’t even pay and it’s still on the schedule – like Monza and all that. So I feel like it should always be on as long as Formula 1 is around.

Sergio Perez said it would be “a great shame” to lose Spa from the calendar, while Sebastian Vettel agreed, describing the hilly track in the Ardennes mountains as “incredible”.

At the Hungarian Grand Prix, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly expressed hope that the race’s absence from the calendar will only be temporary.

“I personally don’t think it has anything to do with the changes or improving safety,” he said of the reason for his potential F1 exit.

“But I can’t believe Spa are going to be off the calendar for years. They definitely deserve their place in the calendar.

“Personally, it’s probably my favorite track. It’s just an amazing track to race on, an amazing track to drive on. We’ll see what happens, but I think it’s going to stay and we’re going to go for it for a few more years.

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