Domenicali: Spa could keep its place on 2023 F1 calendar

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has hinted that the Belgian Grand Prix could yet retain its place on the calendar in 2023.

Domenicali: Spa could keep its place on 2023 F1 calendar

Although the current deal with the venue ends this year, and it doesn’t have a place on the yet-to-be-published 24-race schedule for next season, Spa is in effect first reserve – pending news on other events.

The Chinese GP is supposed to be returning in 2023 after an absence of three seasons, but COVID measures remain a major issue in the country, and especially in the Shanghai area where the race is held, making it hard for F1 to fully commit to staging the event.

F1 also hopes to return to South Africa as early as 2023 after three decades away, but the commercial deal for the Kyalami event has not yet been agreed.

The uncertainty over both has opened the door for Spa, but the Belgian promoter will still have to come up with a package that suits F1, even if it doesn’t match the fees paid by events outside Europe.

Domenicali said that he couldn’t give too many details of the 2023 schedule, as it has yet to be finalised, but he insisted that Spa still had a chance.

“As you can imagine I cannot comment too much on that, because there is respect of discussing and formalising through the World Motor Sport Council with the FIA,” he said. “You never saw something [from] me saying that Belgium will be the last year.

“I would be prudent on that comment, I would say, I would be very prudent. That's the only thing I would say. It's true that we are working and discussing with other promoters to see if they're ready for a full commitment already.

“There has been always a point that we have discussed to find the mix of the races where we're going to have at least one-third in Europe, one third in the Far East area, and the other one in the Americas and Middle East. So we want to be balanced.

“Of course, we're talking about a business where investment, the financial contribution, is very important, but we have always said that the traditional races, the races that we know they cannot bring the money that the others are bringing, have a full respect from us.

“So you will see that this will be respected also, not only this year, but also in the future. With Belgium, discussions are still on.”

Eau rouge overview

Eau rouge overview

Photo by: Erik Junius

He added: “There is a lot of respect for these places. But if you recall, Belgium, there were some periods where it was not in the calendar, and they came back again. The memory sometimes is short. It's a great place, no doubt about it. And that's why we are discussing.

“What I can say is that we are in Spa this weekend. So you will see them [the promoters] a lot of times in my office.”

Domenicali suggested that the circuit has raised its game this year, partly in response to the rained-out 2021 race that left spectators frustrated.

“I have to say they're prepared this weekend in an incredible way,” he said. “On Thursday there will be a special day with drivers, that will be with the fans. We have opened that to recover what has happened last year, that they did something important.

“And also in terms of traffic plan they have presented to us a very interesting proposition. I think that we've seen them in a very, very different approach this year.

“That is very, very, very useful to know, and very important above all for the people that will be everywhere in Spa this weekend.”

French Grand Prix fans in a grandstand

French Grand Prix fans in a grandstand

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Looking further ahead than 2023, Domenicali suggested that France could return to the calendar, having previously mentioned Nice as a possible venue for a street race.

He said: “We are talking with the French Federation, and with the government, because more and more the future also is related to promoters that see that as investment for the country, for the community.

“So the discussions are very, very open for a great future. And as you know, a possibility not next year but in the future could be also to find a sort of rotational proposition that could enable everyone to be part of the calendar. Because I think it's a matter of respect.”

The imminent announcements of Audi and Porsche F1 programmes commencing in 2026 has also stoked interest in a return of the German GP, but Domenicali stressed that the commercial terms have to be right.

"We really hope that Germany can be back around the table,” he said. “But one thing is to say is we'd like to have the [German] Grand Prix. The other thing is to put on the table the things that are needed to discuss about the Grand Prix.

“So hopefully soon – with something that could happen soon – they will have a different situation to discuss with us.”

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