This year and next year, the Belgian GP is again on the F1 calendar, but the future for the race on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit once again does not look bright.
It seems like a story that keeps coming back, the negotiations for a new contract for the Belgian GP. Often there is only a one-year contract extension, which is also reached at the very last minute. For the first time in years there is now certainty for 2024 and 2025, but this contract still stands in stark contrast to the very long agreements that other circuits on the F1 calendar have.
Spa-Francorchamps and the Belgian GP are constantly fighting for a place on the F1 calendar, fighting for Spa Grand Prix to get the budgets around and time and again there are shortages that the Walloon government has to make up for. There is increasing criticism about this because despite the fact that ticket prices have been seriously increased, the Belgian GP continues to pile up losses.
The Walloon Minister of Economic Affairs told ‘La Libre’ that there would be a deficit of 3.2 million euros in 2023. This means a significant improvement compared to 2022 (5.6 million shortfall) and 2021 (7.3 million shortfall), but the increase in ticket prices in recent years played an important role in reducing those shortfalls.
However, the question remains to what extent these shortages can be reduced even further, because the fee that the organizers of the Belgian GP have to pay to organize the F1 race will increase by 5 million euros over the next two years. In 2023 the fee was 23.5 million euros, but in 2024 it will increase to 25 million euros and then reach 28 million euros in 2025.
And there is even more bad news because Liberty Media has already informed the organizers that the fee will increase even further in the event of a possible contract extension for 2026. It seems a situation and an amount that seems impossible for the organization to cough up, let alone that the Walloon government will want to compensate for the likely growing losses again. The disadvantage is that the Belgian GP currently already pays one of the lowest fees (Read: Nine circuits are in danger of losing their place on the F1 calendar).
And with that, a financial tie threatens to ensure that the Belgian GP and Spa-Francorchamps disappear from the F1 calendar. A possible solution, and one that has often been suggested, is to organize an F1 race year after year in collaboration with, for example, France or the Netherlands. With this, F1 owner Liberty Media would also immediately achieve an important goal: more countries on the different F1 calendar and at the same time make those countries pay more annually… Indeed: cash register, cash register, everything revolves around money.