F1 drivers welcome Spa’s 2023 deal and hope more follow after track changes

2023 F1 season

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Formula 1 drivers welcomed the confirmation the series will return to Spa-Francorchamps next year following the revisions made to the track.

A single-year deal was announced on Sunday which will ensure the Belgian Grand Prix appears on the 2023 F1 calendar.

The improvements made to the track ahead of this year’s race included replacing some asphalt run-offs with gravel and moving barriers further from the track at the Eau Rouge-Raidillon complex. New grandstands were also installed.

F1 drivers praised the changes and said they were pleased to see the track remain on the calendar.

“It’s one of the best tracks in the calendar,” said Sainz. “They’ve also done a very good job with the changes they’ve done on track, putting gravel, getting rid of some Tarmac run-offs, making Eau Rouge safer.

Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022
Spa did “a very good job” with track changes – Sainz
“It’s all changes that are in the right direction, and I think we need to congratulate the circuit for that. It makes for a better show, and we look forward to come back in the future and hopefully it can stay in the calendar long[-term].”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, whose travelling fanbase filled many of the grandstands around the circuit during last weekend’s grand prix, said he hoped F1 drivers’ vocal support of a contract extension for the event influenced the deal that was struck for 2023.

“It’s my favourite track on the calendar, it’s amazing,” Verstappen beamed after his championship lead-extending win from 14th on the grid. “Especially when the car is really hooked up, like in qualifying it was really enjoyable to drive.

“From my side, I hope we will never stop coming here, but at the end of the day it’s not up to me, but I’m very happy that it’s here and that it’s happening next year.”

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However his team mate Sergio Perez, who finished second, doubts the drivers’ fondness for the circuit had any bearing on the decision to keep it on the schedule:

“I wish to think differently, but I think it was not for the drivers that they’ve kept the place in the calendar,” he said. “It’s great to have Spa. It’s a unique place that we all enjoy coming to. The pure fans really enjoy coming here.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022
Perez says the track is popular with “pure fans”
After a grand prix which featured 49 overtakes in 44 laps, several drivers praised the racing virtues of the venue after being told it would be staying on the calendar for another year.

“As a race and as a circuit it’s exceptional,” Mercedes’ George Russell enthused. “A negative is obviously the weather, you never know what you’re going to get here, but it’s always a place I enjoy.”

Streaming wet conditions caused a farcical 2021 edition of the grand prix, which ran for just one classified lap. Daniel Ricciardo was pleased the spectators enjoyed better conditions this year.

“It’s good [Spa is staying], especially when the weather’s like this,” said the McLaren driver. “Obviously a complete opposite to last year with the conditions.

“I saw Max won, so that must have meant some overtaking, hopefully it was a good race. So I’m happy for Spa and whether I’m here or not, I’m happy that as an F1 collective, I think this circuit deserves a race.”

Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who won’t be on the grid for F1’s return to the track next year, said the event was “one of the races where the race goes by fairly quick and never gets dull – it’s enjoyable, and it would be a shame to lose it.”

“It’s important to have these type of tracks in the calendar in the world championship,” said Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, echoing the sentiment of many drivers eager for F1 to continue visiting Spa.

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
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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10 comments on “F1 drivers welcome Spa’s 2023 deal and hope more follow after track changes”

  1. Rotation is Spa-Francorchamps’ best or only realistic chance beyond next season, given Kyalami most certainly returns for the season after unless another present circuit gets axed.

    1. Rotation may be it’s only chance to remain long term but at the same time as Martin Brundle said during sky’s coverage it’s also not viable financially as it means the circuit is losing revenue every other year.

      And as has been pointed out before the owners of Hockenheim and Nurburbring said that the rotation from 2007 ended up hurting both circuits.

      Brundle also said that when the BRDC were been forced to look at rotating with another circuit they found it was simply not viable financially so pushed back and eventually managed to get a multi-year deal.

      Losing Spa would just prove that Liberty have no interest in the history of the sport, What the best circuits are or what fans or drivers think. They are just chasing money on boring car park circuits with no character or soul. You know the same things fanshated Bernie for doing but you can’t be critical of Liberty else you’ll be told your just against change or something.

      1. Losing Spa would just prove that Liberty have no interest in the history of the sport

        This argument is pretty weak, I have to say. And not because it means the people who say it are inherently against change (although there is correlation).

        F1 is all about change – it’s a fundamental core feature of the series, and has been since its inception.
        They no longer attend most tracks that they’ve held events at in the past. Spa is just another one, in the grand scheme of things, and not even one of the best for quality of racing. It’s really a track based around one corner sequence that isn’t even the slightest challenge in the dry in F1 anymore.
        F1 is what it’s owners and administrators say it is and make it to be, not what outsiders or even participants think. F1 is a product that can be changed to suit whoever controls it, and that has been the case since it started.
        What you get from it is really only about you.

        Fans hated Bernie, did they? They guy who grew it and brought it to them. Put it on their TV’s and flew it around the world so people outside of Western Europe could experience it. Monetised it to the hilt so that they could pay huge ‘superstar’ drivers and celebrities truly disgusting sums of money just to appear in it, and stay in it…
        Funny how fans hate everything in F1, providing you ask the right fans…. That’s ‘fans’ for you, I guess.
        Liberty are continuing along pretty much the same path, and it’s never sold so well. Generally, when people don’t like something they won’t keep buying it…

        1. jamesluke2488
          31st August 2022, 7:28

          Yes Bernie did alot for the sport and took it to new levels. But he didn’t abandon its roots, there’s still a GP at Silverstone, Monaco, Spa, Monza, Interlargos, all have had upgrades which have kept them on the calendar.

          To abandon these races just for money 💰 will lead to the a drop off in interest for the sport in Europe.

          The owners of the F1 want more fans, so the way they choose to take the sport, is about keeping their existing fan base and creating new ones.

          To be naive to think chasing the money in USA while abandoning its races in Europe will mean more fans overall is silly. Its called balance.

          We need the traditional races on the Calender, even if on pure commercial fees they are lower than new races.

          1. Yep, all those venues are still part of F1, even under Liberty.
            But I don’t think where F1 goes is really as important to a large part of the viewership as some people make it out to be.
            Viewing figures of events outside of those longer-term events are pretty similar.

            It’s worth remembering that it’s not just Liberty who want more money – the teams are demanding more and more of it too. Even to the extent that they’ve unionised and effectively locked out any additional teams from participating.

            You mention balance, but it’s also worth considering that although Europe has many individual territories, it does cover a substantially smaller geographical area than the USA does. In terms of travel time, distance and cost, it’s not a problem for people in much of Europe to attend 8-10 events each year. That the US is one country rather than multiple is trivial. Some European countries have also held multiple events in one season in the past, anyway.
            I personally don’t think it’s any more of a problem that F1 is trying to attract more US viewers than them gatekeeping for the European ones. The European population is well catered for already.

      2. @PeterG Indeed less financially/economically viable than holding annually, which I could’ve also mentioned but left out because I found separate noting unnecessary.

  2. I wonder how many of the 49 ‘overtakes’ were actually overtakes and how many were boring, unexciting, forgettable push of a button DRS highway passes?

    Modern F1 is just Quantity over quality & Action over excitement!

    1. Exactly. I find it absurd that people are enjoying “overtaking” like we saw on Sunday. I would far rather see a Trulli train, at least that way there’s a sense of jeopardy and suspense. With DRS, it is impossible for anyone to defend, which is kind of the whole point. If overtaking is that easy then it’s like shaking a bag of pebbles – the fastest/lightest stones end up at the front way too quick. Think of all the great races that would have been ruined by DRS. It’s really diminishing my enjoyment of a sport I have followed since 1995.

    2. Modern F1 is just Quantity over quality & Action over excitement!

      And you still watch it.

  3. It was their own fault for Spa only get one year extension. It was reported F1 was offering 3 years deal in March, but the authority insist 5 years or nothing. After F1 made a deal with Vegas and public discussion about racing in South Africa they backpedaled but lost their bargaining position and settle for one year.

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