The popular Belgian Grand Prix could become only a biennial event on the Formula 1 calendar should race organisers do a deal to 'share' ownership between the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit and Germany's Nürburgring, due to an inability to afford the hosting fees charged by the sport's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone.
According to Reuters
, this year's Belgian Grand Prix – narrowly won by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen from the inspired Giancarlo Fisichella in the unheralded Force India on Sunday – is set to make a loss of around €3 million, and with Spa's current contract due to expire after the 2012 race, future options are being assessed.
“The discussion with Ecclestone is based on the fact that we believe we are running too high a deficit and that we have to try to accommodate that,” revealed Etienne Davignon, president of the Belgian Grand Prix. “We know that it is a structural deficit.
“We can't say that it is because of the [global economic] crisis and so on. We know that [with] what we can attract at the prices we have to take because of what the race costs, we cannot reach the figures that we require. There are two elements of reality; 2012 is under contract and 2010 is on the schedule. What we do in relation to how we organise after 2012, or not, is part of the whole discussion.
“Presently there are a number of uncertainties. The grand prix in Germany is at Hockenheim, and Hockenheim said they would not do it, so should we try to have alternance if we can organise it?”
Indeed, Hockenheim's town council – which largely funds the German Grand Prix at the Baden-Württemberg venue – has insisted that it is no longer willing or able to finance a multi-million Euro loss-making event, plunging the race's future into turmoil. Hockenheim is currently alternating with the Nürburgring as the host of the German Grand Prix, and Davignon said a similar arrangement between the Eifel Mountains track and Spa could be a possibility, at just 120km apart from one another.
“If you can't get Formula 1 races every year because it's too expensive – not for him (Ecclestone) but for us – then what is an intelligent alternative and is there an intelligent alternative?” he mused. “If we alternate the race, for example with the Nürburgring – and I don't know if they are interested or not – then we keep the fans that come to Formula 1, we get more income and that goes against the loss.”