Spa-Francorchamps – one of the few remaining classic circuits left on the Formula 1 calendar – may have to be shortened for future editions of the Belgian Grand Prix.
The Ardennes track has welcomed F1 on no fewer than 40 occasions since the official inception of the world championship back in 1950, and is a popular venue amongst drivers for its challenging nature.
The original layout, though, used to be some two times the length that it is now, and reports coming out of Belgium suggest the longest circuit on the sport's current schedule – at a fraction over 7km – could be shortened again, with the approval of F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone.
This would be achieved by linking the Pouhon left-hand sweepers with Blanchimont to cut out the high-speed Fagnes chicane and Stavelot, with the existing Pouhon and Blanchimont sections also likely to be modified.
claims the alterations may well take place within the next two years – possibly even in time for the 2009 grand prix – and world championship leader Lewis Hamilton has expressed that the gradual disappearance of many of the sport's more demanding and most-loved 'drivers' tracks' is a shame, even if he acknowledged that he understood why changes need to be made.
“You really feel the history of those places whenever you race there,” the McLaren-Mercedes star reasoned. “They have real character.
“Each time they are refurbished they lose a little more of their individuality, but they are made safer, so we can continue to race on them – that's a good compromise.”
Such suggestions, however, have been rubbished by circuit spokesman Luc Willems, who told the Dutch language f1today.nl
: “Spa has always been unique. Our circuit is as it is, and that is not going to change.”
Meanwhile, it has been suggested that the future of the Nürburgring in the top flight is at risk, as rumours intensify that national authority over motor racing in Germany is to change hands.