The organisers of the Spanish Grand Prix
in Barcelona insist that they have no intention of giving up the race, despite the ongoing suggestion that it may have to alternate with the street circuit in Valencia.
The latter dropped off the calendar to make room of the ill-fated Grand Prix of America project in New Jersey, and the port-side venue is already reported to have fallen into a state of disrepair, while Barcelona took advantage of its position on the 2013 schedule to advance talks of an extended contract. The Catalan circuit is 80 per cent owned by the local government and makes a loss on hosting the F1 circus, but continues to bring greater economic benefits to the Barcelona region.
Salvador Servia, director general at the Circuit de Catalunya, used the second day of the meeting to again dismiss claims that Barcelona would have to alternate the Spanish round with Valencia from next season, pointing out that preparations for the 2014 event were already under way.
"We are working on next year, [and] have already published the ticket prices for 2014," he told Reuters
, "We have done 23 years of F1 and our objective is to do another 23 years."
Servia pointed out that, despite Spain suffering worse than most in the current global economic crisis, the grand prix was still doing good business thanks to its ability to attract spectators from outside the country's borders. Nearly 75 per cent of the crowd this weekend is expected to come from countries other than Spain, helping to offset the lack of 'local' sales.
A crowd of around 93,000 is expected for the race on Sunday, up from recent years when spectator numbers dipped alarmingly, despite the attraction of Fernando Alonso
racing – and winning - for Ferrari.
"Last year, we started selling overseas, targeting travel agencies and tour operators and we carried on the same way this year," Servia explained, "We have sold quite a lot in England, Germany and France. [Spain is] in a crisis, but we will carry on putting on the grand prix with all the qualities as if we were still rich!"