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GP Week : Issue 162
While there has yet to be any confirmation from Bernie Ecclestone’s camp, reports in the Belgian media indicate that the beloved race at the historic Spa-Francorchamps Circuit appears to be safe until 2015. The Belgian Grand Prix is popular among fans, but not among spectators, and has been running at a substantial loss for years, leading to fears that the race would soon drop off the calendar. A possible stay of execution was found in the much talked about alternation deal with the currently defunct French Grand Prix, but that plan died a death with the French elections. But according to Jean-Claude Marcourt, the economy minister for Wallonia, organisers of the Belgian Grand Prix have organised a three-year contract extension with Ecclestone. “We were able to negotiate a contract extension for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015 where there will be a race at Spa-Francorchamps,” Marcourt told Belgian broadcaster RTBF. “The negotiations were not difficult. We had one for a while when France wanted an alternation. They said they were open because it was an opportunity. The negotiations were long. Ecclestone is someone who is extremely difficult to deal with, but was very respectful of the commitments made to us.” Ecclestone may be difficult to deal with, but Marcourt implies that the Belgians were able to negotiate a reduction in the race hosting fee, indicating that the F1 supremo is well aware of the circuit’s importance to the calendar. The local government might need the race to promote economic activity in the region, but Formula One needs Spa to preserve its link to the sport’s history. “What we really want is for the grand prix to play a part in the economic development of the region. We want to increase the exposure of Wallonia. What I wanted to do was reduce the size of the expenditure in the budget of the Walloon region, and when comparing what was taken in the previous contract and the new, I would say it is a mission accomplished. “There was no way we could continue to lose as much money as we lost in previous years. This is the mandate I gave to Étienne Davignon [chairman of the Belgian Grand Prix]. This circuit is an expense but it is not as much. What we will do is increase the attractiveness of Belgium.” SPA SAFE FOR THREE MORE YEARS? EDITOR: Adam Hay-Nicholls email@example.com ASSISTANT EDITORS: Naoise Holohan, Kate Walker F1 ANALYST: Peter Windsor MOTOGP EDITOR: Michael Scott firstname.lastname@example.org RALLY EDITOR: Martin Holmes email@example.com PRODUCTION ARTIST: Cedric Dufour PHOTOGRAPHY: Sutton Motorsport Images www.sutton-images.com Keith Sutton firstname.lastname@example.org: Mark Sutton, Patrik Lundin, Dirk Klynsmith, Emily Davenport PUBLISHER: Chris Lambden email@example.com PUBLISHED BY: Grand Prix Week Ltd 61 Watling Street, Towcester Northants NN12 6AG United Kingdom ADVERTISING: n Richard Partridge firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: + 44 1273 232 566 Mob: + 44 7771 567 644 n Mark Sutton email@example.com n Gaye Grinsted (WRC/MotoGP) firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: +44 (0) 207 254 8796 Mob: +44 (0) 7921 283 070 n Adam Hay-Nicholls email@example.com n SE Asia, Australasia GPWEEK (Australia) firstname.lastname@example.org .com WEEK F1 >>> NEWS 4 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: