Verstappen fears for Spa: “I don’t want to end up driving only on street tracks”

2022 French Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen is concerned Spa-Francorchamps may drop off the Formula 1 schedule as the series chases more lucrative events on street circuits.

The promoters of the Belgian Grand Prix are seeking a new deal to ensure the race returns on the 2023 F1 calendar. However France, the scene of this weekend’s race, is also vying for a spot on next year’s schedule, as is Kyalami in South Africa.

Verstappen, who is Dutch but was born across the border in the Belgian city of Hasselt, says it’s “sad” the historic Spa circuit may be forced off the calendar.

“It’s my favourite track, first of all,” said Verstappen. “I think it’s just a great track to drive.

“Of course I understand that to get there compared to other tracks, it’s probably a little more difficult sometimes to deal with the traffic. But it’s a very iconic track.”

The growing number of venues seeking a place on next year’s schedule is pushing F1 close to its agreed limit of 24 races. The addition, a new street race in Las Vegas – F1’s third round in the USA – has added to the congestion on its calendar.

Las Vegas is the latest in a series of new street venues to join the schedule, including Miami and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Verstappen is concerned by the growing trend towards temporary tracks.

“I don’t want to see myself in 2028 or whatever driving only on street circuits close to the city just for the fan engagement or whatever,” he said. “Because you need these kind of iconic tracks on the calendar.

“Of course I understand everyone wants to make money, but there is also a limit to that because it’s important to keep these really cool circuits on the calendar instead of just driving on street circuits, which I think F1 cars are not designed for anyway.”

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2022 French Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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27 comments on “Verstappen fears for Spa: “I don’t want to end up driving only on street tracks””

  1. At last, something I agree with Max on.

    1. Absolutely……Removal of Spa from the F1 calendar, and to enable further racing between stop signs, and traffic lights on these street circuits. Is a crime on the highest order.

    2. I am afraid that Max already feel the end coming of Spa and i hope his voice can help. Of a friend of mine (who lives very near the track) i heard it’s not going the right way as both parties are far from each other….

  2. Venue selection will be a challenge with Liberty as owner. So far the fan engagement through allowing more social channel access has been a good development. In all other categories the revenue driven ‘circusation’ of this sport is tough to watch as an European. Especially when looking at other racing categories that use street circuits I have to say it looks terrible. The fences and the crappy road surface make it look like some local amateur event and it definitely undermines the feel of magic and pinnacle of motorsport. It also comes across as a lottery rather than testing the skills of the drivers and capabilities of the cars. I am prejudiced as to where this will go and hope sincerely I will be proven wrong.

  3. Something has to give way, so if Spa gets axed, so be that.
    Yes, a classic track, but not the world’s end either. BTW, everyone seems to have forgotten Qatar.

    1. True, haven’t heard about qatar any more, but I disagree with axing spa, historical tracks are important, and goes for monaco too, I like the unusualness of it.

  4. Keep the Grand Prix at Spa and call it the French Grand Prix. Win win

  5. Liberty Don’t care about F1, It’s history, Heritage or what the fans think or care about.

    They care only about money and they will do away with all the proper circuits in favor of the awful car parks street venues. They don’t care because they have no history or connection to the sport.

    Instead of ex-f1 people like Ross & Stefano been the link that teaches Liberty about F1 they have instead turned out to be money driven frauds who will go along with all of Liberty’s wants regardless of the damage it will do to the sports heritage.

    If we start losing the classic proper circuits then F1 will stop deserving fans time.

    1. Given the years of Bernie Ecclestone, what you describe is ‘F1 as a business does not and never has cared all that much about history or heritage or fans’, and arguably some of that has actually improved since Bernie, and even if it might decrease over the coming years LyndaMarks F1 did gain a lot of fans who it needs to keep, and quite a few will also want to see the spectacle of tracks like Spa because they as a group still won’t be able to go to many races a year exactly because of the time and cost.

    2. 2000% agree with you

      1. With lynda obviously

  6. They can start be getting rid of Paul Richard for good. Absolutely awful track. I struggle following it because every part of the track looks the same. It’s the one race I literally don’t care for watching.

    1. @davidhunter13 yes! I came to check the news for this weekends GP and realise I’m not going to watch it anyway. Every corner looks the same. It’s a cool testing track but horrific as a race track.

      With so many races now, it actually feels good missing some. Miami & Jeddah have been added to that list as well. I suspect I’ll end up skipping most street circuits. Las Vegas most likely also an autoinclude for that list.

      1. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
        21st July 2022, 22:27

        @antznz quite right. If I can be bothered I forward through the races.

    2. I find Paul Richard a excellent test track much beter the Barcelona as you can change the layout per day AND even test the tyres with water. as racing track no all those colours hurt my eyes even when watching onboards you don’t know where you are and where the driver has togo.
      So great for testing worthless for racing visiual …..

      1. I like that suggestion. We just need it for testing at the beginning of the year, where everyone can be excited about the new cars hitting the track (you won’t notice the stripes if you’re focussed on the aerodynamic details on the new cars) and then, at the end of February, we can all be excited about not having to come back there the rest of the year.

  7. I was watching (remotely) the Indy Car race at Toronto last weekend and thinking how tawdry the track looked compared to the pristine circuits of Formula One and what a shame it was they couldn’t do better. Then Max reminded me that I was comparing something cobbled together for a weekend to a real race track that has been groomed and tailored to its purpose for decades. Cripes, but the man is right.

  8. I really struggle to believe that replacing Spa with a street track would actually increase profits long-term. It seems like one of the easier ways to lose fans.

    1. Would it lose fans?
      More people are likely to attend a local street race ‘festival’ within an hour of home (or at least a reasonably large city) than they are to drive 100km+ out into the countryside, try to find an (expensive) hotel, pay an exorbitant amount for food and drinks, potentially have no shade or rain protection, limited access to parking or public transport, and then have to travel home again afterwards.

      Having done both on many occasions, I’d choose the street circuit. Given the costs involved these days, they are far better value than traditional, permanent circuits located miles away from civilisation.
      Of course, if you’re fortunate enough to have time and money to burn, you can take your pick – or do both….

      1. I think giving up on classic tracks is a crime, never been done before I believe also.

      2. To be honest on festivals you pay an exorbitant amount for food and drinks…

        Why Spa really needs a facelift around the track with more parking space but beter routes for pendelbusses (a bit like how Zandvoort handles the traffic)

        1. And maybe better marketing? Zandvoort did a good job turning the event into a three day festival. I’m not saying Spa should do the same thing (i.e. music acts right next to the track and indeed expensive food and drinks), but the circuit is in a beautiful area that’s as much worth a visit as any city.
          There’s plenty of other activities that could be more connected to the event, maybe car related (why not a Goodwood FOS-style event with maybe F1-drivers involved? A drivers parade in the town of Spa like they do at Le Mans), but not necessarily. If you make it a broader event it gets more connected with the region and it gets worth the travel + you spread the traffic like Zandvoort does. Whatever they do: they shouldn’t just relax and rely on their heritage status.

      3. I meant in relation to losing global fans, i.e. people stopping watching F1 across the world would reduce profits compared to the increase in profits from more people attending street race compared to Spa current attendance.

  9. The funny thing here is that Spa originally was a street track too. So if anything we need more exciting street circuits (Montjuïc, Rouen-Les Essarts). Or we just need to develop the village of Francorchamps into a metropole for the rich and famous. Either way will do.

    1. @Ruben it was a road course not a street track. The major difference being that it was run on rural roads not city streets. In its day, the original Spa layout was considered to be one of the fastest tracks.

  10. Monaco

    Will stay and other tracks can come and go. Nurburgring/Hockenheim/Kyalami/Mexico/Imola are also good options.

    1. In honesty, I would not have a huge problem with rotating some of those tracks providing they went to a great track within that country. Suzuka is my favourite track but I would not object to swapping it with Fuji occasionally. Similarly, I would not object to occasionally swapping Monza for Muggello, or Silverstone for other UK tracks (Brands Hatch would be pretty great if it is safe enough).

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