Residents living close to Spa-Francorchamps have come out in support of the legendary drivers' circuit in the Ardennes – and have launched an online petition in a bid to prevent the Belgian Grand Prix from being culled from the F1 calendar.
Just under two months ago, it emerged that Spa's racing licence had been suspended by the local Council of State until 2026, due – it was claimed – to 'seriously inadequate and incomplete' measures having been taken to address noise levels following complaints from residents [see separate story – click here
The revelation sent shockwaves through the F1 paddock, with the annual Belgian Grand Prix arguably the favourite race of the season for drivers, teams and fans alike. The prospect of what is by common consent one of the greatest circuits in the world slipping off the schedule again – as happened in 2003 and 2006 – is one that has upset many of the sport's aficionados, but residents insist they are anything but opposed to the event taking place.
A local organisation has launched a petition at http://www.defendonsfrancorchamps.be/petition-circuit-spa-francorchamps.html
, stressing that the Belgian Grand Prix is important for the local economy and arguing that they are being unjustifiably painted as scapegoats in an effort to remove the race from the calendar.
“We are an association of people who live near the track of Spa-Francorchamps,” a Defendons Francorchamps spokesperson told Crash.net
, “and we want to confirm that we are not
disturbed by the permanent work of the circuit. What do we want? We want to be sure that the Spa-Francorchamps racing track can continue to work for the economic future of our country.
“Since the last publication of the Belgian State Council, too many people think that all the people living in Francorchamps and around are disturbed by the noise and are against the circuit – this is not right. We are not deaf with criticism when it is founded and justified, our association respects all democratic initiatives – including those defended by minorities – and it's usual that we 'follow the majority', but we really feel more and more attacked by the bad publicity and false or directed figures that certain badly-disposed people are spreading everywhere.
“The 'most beautiful circuit in the world' is a real economic tool, which gives work to a significant amount of people and provides a lot of publicity and a dynamic image of Belgium all around the world. We are sorry for the people who don't agree to be integrated into the local life, but we are for the continuity of the circuit – and we will fight to preserve it!”