Mosley Rules Out Belgian Race in 2003

Belgium has practically no hope of hosting a Formula One grand prix this year, motor racing chief Max Mosley said on Tuesday.

Mosley Rules Out Belgian Race in 2003

Belgium has practically no hope of hosting a Formula One grand prix this year, motor racing chief Max Mosley said on Tuesday.

"To all practical purposes, it's nil," the International Automobile Federation (FIA) president told reporters at a news conference when asked what chance Spa-Francorchamps had of returning to the 2003 calendar.

"On the other hand, if the tobacco problem were resolved then from 2004 onwards we could have a grand prix in Belgium.

"In that situation, I think Spa would probably be one of the safest circuits in Europe to keep its grand prix indefinitely because everyone thinks it's an outstanding circuit."

The Belgian race was axed in October after tobacco-sponsored teams voted against it following Belgium's decision to outlaw tobacco sponsorship from this August. The FIA wants a globally-agreed ban from the end of 2006.

The European Union has also decided to outlaw tobacco sponsorship from mid-2005, a move Mosley slammed earlier this month as "an incredible piece of stupidity" which could prompt a Formula One exodus from Europe.

"The difficulty is that the politicians don't understand that if you're dealing with a world championship and a world sport, you have to have a world date for ending something like tobacco sponsorship," he said on Tuesday.

The deputy head of Spa's regional government, Serge Kubla, said earlier that he had met Formula One bosses Bernie Ecclestone and Mosley in London on Monday in an effort to win the race back.

"Discussions centred around the possibility of organising a Formula One grand prix at Francorchamps in 2004, indeed in 2003," said a statement released by Kubla's office.

"As far as 2003 goes, the organisation of a grand prix has not been completely ruled out, even if the chance is slim after the (tobacco) vote in parliament and all the delay," Kubla's statement said.

Kubla said both Mosley and Ecclestone had expressed support for keeping the Spa race even though the number of European races will be reduced with new circuits like those in China and Bahrain competing for places on the calendar from 2004.

Ecclestone said last month that he hoped the Belgian government would reverse the anti-tobacco advertising legislation so the race could potentially return in 2004.

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