Start, Spa, 2017

Spa and Suzuka need new deals to stay on F1 calendar in 2019

2019 F1 season

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Two of the world’s most celebrated circuits will not appear on the 2019 F1 calendar unless they agree new deals with Formula One Management.

The contracts for Spa-Francorchamps in Belgian and Suzuka in Japan to hold rounds of the world championship are up for renewal at the end of this year.

The German Grand Prix could also disappear from the calendar after 2018. The race previously alternated from one year to the next between the Hockenheimring and Nurburgring, but the latter hasn’t held its round for five years after becoming bankrupt in 2012, and Hockenheim’s deal ends after this year’s race.

The current 21-race calendar is F1’s longest ever. Liberty Media, which took over the sport at the end of 2016, is yet to make its first significant move in shaping the future schedule. The most recent changes to the calendar, including the return of the French Grand Prix this year and the cancellation of the Malaysian Grand Prix, were decisions taken while Bernie Ecclestone was still in charge.

Shortly after buying the sport in 2016 Liberty CEO Greg Maffei said he wanted to expand the calendar beyond 21 races and identified the USA, Latin America and Asia as targets for expansion.

Read Dieter Rencken’s analysis of how next year’s F1 calendar is shaping up in his new columns on RaceFans later today.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 27 comments on “Spa and Suzuka need new deals to stay on F1 calendar in 2019”

    1. It’s like Bernie never left

      1. Unfortunately it will not change much. Bernie set up a very successful pyramid scheme and it is now very hard to undo that. Liberty spent a lot of money (Some would say massively overpaid) for F1 and they will need to make that money back somehow. They can’t really do that by charging tracks less…

        We are already tied into all the other deals that Bernie set up which will be haunting F1 for a while yet. The Sky F1 deal is one of those as currently they can’t release their F1 streaming app in the UK until that deal is over… A streaming app that is desperately needed. Free to air is also important but those channels can not pay the necessary fees even though it would help F1 gain new audiences and help the teams sell sponsorship.

        F1 is a total mess and I think it is going to get much worse as I do not think Liberty have much choice if they want to pay back all their loans.

        It is Sad to say it but I think F1 has a terminal illness.

    2. Dare you, Liberty, to get rid of Spa and Suzuka. Best tracks on the calendar, imho.

      1. Unfortunately retaining tracks has little to do with how good they are for racing, but it has a lot to do with how good the money is for both parties of the contract. If the claim that Ecclestone sold the rights too cheaply is true, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all considering the harm his needless profiteering has caused, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see Liberty Media forced to let good race tracks go, not because they don’t see that drivers and teams get a moral boost from racing on that track, but simply because they can’t afford to retain that track.

    3. I do hope this works out. Both the tracks are ones that I like (like many, I’m sure), and it would be a poorer F1 season without them.

    4. While expanding in the USA, LatAm and Asia is all well and good, Liberty should aim to retain classic circuits, and even modern classics like Sepang. This shouldn’t be too hard if they want to expand beyond 21 races, although drivers and engineers will definitely protest.

    5. Spa has so much tarmac runoff the challenge is largely diminished. Sad.

      1. +1

        Still one of my favourites on the calendar for the speed, scenery and history; but corners like Pouhon and Les Combes have lost most of their thrill now the stakes are so low. That and the new Bus Stop is still a hideoisly clumsy joke corner with a borderline dangerous pit-entry.

    6. This above all could be the defining moment for the future of F1.

      If these two tracks aren’t retained, or fail to sign new deals because the price is way too high to be viable, then we have a serious problem.

      If Liberty just adopts the “well too bad for them” attitude and substitutes in some races in the US and Latin America, we’ll be looking at the beginning of the end IMO.

      I certainly will be forced to change my viewing habits to accommodate the time difference and will more than likely not bother with some. I can manage a couple of late night/early mornings each season but not if the ratio goes way higher.

    7. They better be there next year… They better. What is next, no Monza?
      That is way worse than worrying about halo’s and quiet engines… The loss of iconic race tracks is were the real problem lies…

    8. While Liberty seem to want to add races in new locations, one of the first points Chase Carey was keen to labour was that he wants to keep the sport’s existing historic venues. Based on this, I’d be surprised if we lose Spa and Suzuka. Japan is a huge market (and the circuit is owned by Honda) and Spa is a Mecca for Verstappen’s army of fans on top of being the best circuit on the calendar. We need both races.

      1. @geemac
        Exactly, i fail to see how we’ll lose both the circuits.
        Money is extremely integral to the sport, but Suzuka and Spa attract a lot of fans every year. Both are fan favourite tracks.
        There needs to be a very good reason for them to fall out of the calendar. Even then, i guess F1 should perhaps work together to ensure that holding races is sustainable. A little (financial) sacrifice would certainly help.

        1. Apparently Spa still made a 10mln loss on the race in 2017, while it was stacked to capacity (many would say over capacity) on race day due to the Verstappen madness. That just shows how hosting a race is completely impossible without governments coughing up the money.
          Apparently “live”spectators just do not bring enough money, even with the ridiculous prices at Spa…

    9. I’m confident that both circuits will remain in F1 beyond this season although you can never take anything for granted unless it’s 100% set in stone so to speak. On a bit different note, I recently created my personal draft race calendar for next season just for the sake of doing so, and I base it on 20 races (assuming Spa and Suzuka will stay, and taking into account that Hockenheim will drop again)

      1. It seems that I accidentally pressed ‘POST COMMENT’ too early, but anyway here it is, and furthermore, at the moment, I’m not taking into account the potential addition of Vietnam, for example, nor the even ‘less likely’ options of Miami or Argentina as nothing concerning them is set in stone.
        1. Australia March 24
        2. Bahrain April 7
        3. China April 21
        4. Russia April 28 (I have a feeling they’re going to ask to get the late-April slot back since they only moved to late-September for this season due to the FIFA World Cup tournament)
        5. Spain May 12
        6. Monaco May 26
        7. Canada June 9
        8. France June 23
        9. Austria June 30
        10. Britain July 14
        11. Hungary July 28
        12. Belgium August 25
        13. Italy September 1
        14. Azerbaijan September 15 (I expect this race to move to the late-season flyaway phase should the Russian GP return to the early-season one.)
        15. Japan September 29
        16. Singapore October 6
        17. USA October 20
        18. Mexico October 27
        19. Brazil November 10
        20. Abu Dhabi November 24
        Here’s an alternative should Azerbaijan and Russia remain in the early-season and late-season flyaway phases respectively:
        1. Australia March 24
        2. Bahrain April 7
        3. China April 21
        4. Azerbaijan April 28
        5. Spain May 12
        6. Monaco May 26
        7. Canada June 9
        8. France June 23
        9. Austria June 30
        10. Britain July 14
        11. Hungary July 28
        12. Belgium August 25
        13. Italy September 1
        14. Japan September 15
        15. Singapore September 22
        16. Russia October 6
        17. USA October 20
        18. Mexico October 27
        19. Brazil November 10
        20. Abu Dhabi November 24

    10. 21 races this season, 18 next (no German GP), then 2020 no British GP (as it currently stands). Liberty really need to step up and get new contracts sorted, that are beneficial to them, the circuits and the fans..

      1. And all disappearing races will be replaced by races at existing places. Abu dhabi 1 season opener, abu dhabi 2 summer race, abu dhabi 3 season ending.

        1. @spoutnik – and like pretty much every sequel, they’ll disappoint :-) Particularly when even one is boring enough!

          1. @phylyp 2019 etihad f1 abu dhabi exclusive championship full season ep 1-21 :-)

            1. They wouldn’t even be able to give away the box set for free! @spoutnik

      2. To be honest, finding circuits to host races is easy, can they pay the amounts F1 has got used to?

    11. Their deals may be up for renewal but is there any suggestion that renewal won’t happen? Hamilton’s contract expires at the end of this season, but it doesn’t mean he is going to be without a drive for next year.

      And the situation regarding the British GP after the 2019 race (when Silverstone chuck in the towel, supposedly) is still not resolved – well, only in as much as they have stated they will benefit enormously financially by not running the GP.

      Liberty know they cannot really afford to lose these tracks, especially with expansion in mind. These tracks are all well versed in running GPs – having 5 or 6 new tracks on the calendar would be a nightmare logistically.

      1. Exactly.

        It’s all panic over nothing. Both these races will remain on the calendar, like Monza did after 2016, and Silverstone will after 2019. The only one that will probably not return is Hockenheim which is no great loss.

    12. If getting rid of thesetracks is tge beginning of the end they would just sign them up again at a rate the circuits can afford. This would be the beggining of the end. Moving races to other circuits that pay more grows F1 or protects it. The only difference is they will race on tracks some people do not like but as those people do not financially make a dent in f1 whether they like the tracks or not they do not matter. As for liking tracks unlessbyou are a driver it does not make a difference, it’s akin to arguing what the food on a cookery programme tastes like when you are only staring at images of it.

    13. Vettel fan 17 (@)
      25th April 2018, 17:22

      If they don’t secure them for next year, I’ll lose alot of faith in Liberty Media. It’s not like we are talking about two Tilkedromos, it’s Suzuka and Spa. Two of the most challenging tracks in F1, both classics from long ago. Whether it’s 130R, Eau Rouge, the S curves or Pouhon, those two tracks make up a substantial fraction of the great corners. Losing them would be like tennis losing Wimbeldon.

      As for the German Grand Prix, I’m not surprised that it will probably not be on the calender, but it is a bit of a shame it won’t be there. Germany is a country that has in recent years made brilliant drivers in Scumacher, Vettel and Rosberg, not to mention Mercedes. I was hoping the Nurburgring would return, since the grand prix track was cool, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem like happening.

    14. What I have never understood, why is it that circuits don’t team up themselves? Like you could see create a common front towards F1? If you want a deal, you have to make a deal that involves all circuits. Would be Monza, Spa, Suzuka, Interlagos, Montreal & Silverstone for example. Can you imagine the power that would wield?

      1. No power at all versus Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, more Russian and USA races that will be more than happy to fill the gap and will pay more money.

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