Belgian GP admits ’complicated’ 2023 talks
"My hopes are real and I am confident"
Vanessa Maes, boss of the Belgian GP promoter Spa Grand Prix, admits she is in "complicated" negotiations with Formula 1 over a new contract for 2023.
The feeling in the paddock is that this weekend is F1’s last trip to the fabled Ardennes region for now, although Stefano Domenicali warned that talks are still ongoing.
Helping those talks is a rare sell-out crowd.
"The ticket offices are closed," Maes told RTBF. "It is no longer possible to obtain tickets.
"This is unheard of here at Francorchamps."
Key grandstand, safety and asphalt upgrades are also all in place for this weekend’s event, and Maes said she responded to F1’s push for more entertainment for spectators.
"F1 has never been so popular as Liberty Media are betting a lot on the entertainment side," she said.
"We have therefore gone this way with many renowned DJs like Henri PFR but there are 35 DJs in total and also shows through the weekend and fireworks at the finish.
"This shows that we are responding and if the weather is with us, I guarantee you that this weekend will be exceptional."
If Spa does make it onto the 2023 grid, however, it may only be because F1 CEO Domenicali’s talks with South Africa are yet to be concluded.
Therefore, Maes is confident of a deal.
"My hopes are real and I am confident," she insisted. "For me, this Belgian GP will not be the last at Francorchamps.
"Negotiations will continue this weekend and I hope that F1 officials will be sensitive to the efforts we have made to modernise this circuit whilst keeping its DNA.
"I hope to be able to announce some good news to you in the coming days, even if the 2023 calendar will not be official for another month."
Maes admits, however, that Spa may ultimately only survive on the calendar beyond 2023 thanks to Domenicali’s new ’race rotation’ idea for some European venues.
"Some people are saying there will be no more race, others talk about an alternation with France or Germany and some think we will be back next year," she smiled.
"It is clear that it is more complicated for us as our contract is at the end, but we still have good hopes of being able to continue the adventure with F1."