Ecclestone backs Spa F1 return

Spa-Francorchamps received another boost in its drive to be reinstated on the 2004 Formula 1 calendar after F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone assured the Belgian economic minister Serge Kubla that he is "100 percent" behind grand prix racing returning to the 4.330-mile circuit

Ecclestone backs Spa F1 return

The Belgian GP was dropped from this year's schedule after failing to fall into line with the FIA's policy on tobacco sponsorship. But according to reports from the Belga news agency, the country's Senate for Social Affairs voted to approve a "Francorchamps Bill" which would bypass any tobacco laws until the European Union ban comes into effect at the end of July, 2005.

"Mr Ecclestone told me that he would do everything he can to bring back the grand prix to Spa-Francorchamps and even for next year," Kubla said, after meeting Ecclestone in London last week. "For that, he saw two possibilities, substitute a date of another GP or reach an agreement with the teams to find a new date.

"Mr Ecclestone assured me that he was 100 percent behind a return of the grand prix to Spa and, in my eyes, the worst thing that could happen now would be that the GP comes back in 2005 and not 2004".

This comes at a time when the future of the British Grand Prix remains in doubt with the BRDC, Ecclestone's Formula One Management company and the government's Department of Trade and Industry so far failing to agree on funding for a £40m facility upgrade Ecclestone has demanded for Silverstone to meet F1 standards and guarantee its place on the calendar until 2015.

Ecclestone is also expected to include races in China and Bahrain on the calendar next year and is considering a proposal to run a future race in India.

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