The future of the Belgian Grand Prix could be secure until the end of the 2015 at least, according to quotes attributed to Jean-Claude Marcourt, Minister of Economy of Wallonia.
The iconic race at Spa-Francorchamps has come under recent threat after continued poorer than hoped for ticket sales, and there was speculation that the only way to save its future would be to stage the race biannually, alternating each year with the returning French Grand Prix.
But it now seems that its place on the calendar has been locked in for each year until the end of the 2015 season.
“We were able to negotiate a contract extension for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015 where there will be a race at Spa-Francorchamps,” Marcourt told the local RTBF TV station.
“What we really want is for the Grand Prix to play a part in the economic development of the region. We want to increase the exposure of Wallonia [province]. What I wanted to do was reduce the size of the expenditure in the budget of the Walloon region, and when comparing what was taken in the previous contract and the new, I would say it is a mission accomplished.
“There was no way we could continue to lose as much money as we lost in previous years. This is the mandate I gave to (Belgian Grand Prix Chairman) Étienne Davignon. This circuit is an expense but it is not as much. What we will do is increase the attractiveness of Belgium.”
One way that the event’s organisers might have been able to reduce the event’s expenditure would be through the renegotiation of the annual sanctioning fee, believed to amount to a $21 million annual payment to Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Management group.
Recent races have not been huge crowd-pullers, with the event believed to be posting losses of $4 to $5 million per year.
A formal announcement is expected in due course.