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F1 drivers including McLaren star Lando Norris and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel have hit out at the uncertain future of the Belgian Grand Prix. The race at the Spa-Francorchamps track will see its F1 contract expire at the end of this year and could be scrapped as the sport’s bosses prepare to announce new venues for the 2023 season.
F1 chiefs have added an additional event in Las Vegas, while Grands Prix in China and Qatar are set to return. There are also rumours that a South African race will make its back onto the calendar for the first time in three decades. And the Belgian race has been tipped to fall by the wayside as a result of the changes.
Norris, who is half Belgian is unhappy at the plight of the Spa-Francorchamps race and has claimed that “a lot of things these days are just about money.”
“I personally have a lot to do with Spa of course and I love the circuit,” said the 22-year-old. “I went to Belgium for many years and spent a lot of time there with my family. I’m looking forward to experiencing the changes and the new tarmac, and a new grandstand at Raidillon. I always look forward to Spa. It’s one of the coolest circuits all season.
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“It would be a shame to lose Spa. A lot of things these days are just about money – that’s the problem. It’s a business. It’s a historic race for F1, the same as Monaco. As far as I know, they don’t even pay in Monaco and it’s still on the calendar – same with Monza. So I think Spa should always be there as long as Formula 1 exists.”
Meanwhile, AlphaTauri ace Pierre Gasly has dismissed any claims that the race could be lost due to safety concerns. “Personally I don’t think it has anything to do with safety, but I can’t wrap my head around the fact that it’s disappearing from the calendar,” said the 26-year-old.
According to RacingNews365, Red Bull star Sergio Perez has also expressed his disappointment at the prospect of losing the Belgian race. And in July, Aston Martin driver Vettel also spoke out against the development. “Spa is an amazing track,” said the 35-year-old.
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“I don’t know any driver that doesn’t like driving at Spa whereas I do know drivers that don’t like the circuit in Russia – not because it’s Russia but because the track is a bit all the same. That (losing the Belgian GP) would be a shame. I have no vote in this but my vote would be to go to Spa. But it would be wrong to lose Spa on so many levels.”
F1 chief Stefano Domenicali, however, has maintained that any changes that are made are based on factors other than money. “I am not selling the soul of Formula 1,” he said. “That is the normal change. We are opening up to the whole world. Money is important everywhere. For us too. But we don’t just look at it – the whole package has to be right. If we only looked at the bank account, the racing calendar would definitely look different.”
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