JANUARY 31, 2024
Promoter must pay more to save Belgian GP?
Promoters of the fabled Belgian GP at Spa-Francorchamps may need to pay a lot more to extend its Formula 1 race deal beyond 2025.
Late last year, the immediate dark cloud of uncertainty over the race's future was lifted when Spa Grand Prix, the promoter, managed to sign a mere one-year extension to its expiring deal.
The apparent reason for the unusually short duration, in an era where decade-long or even longer contracts are favoured by Liberty Media, is that the current promoter could not afford to pay more.
Barcelona is currently pushing for a new deal, having already lost the 'Spanish Grand Prix' official title for 2026 and beyond to higher bidders in Madrid.
Marca sports newspaper believes the Barcelona organisers would be happy with the 'European GP' name, but a deal would involve a much higher annual race fee payable to F1.
Spanish sources have reported that Barcelona currently pays just EUR 26m per race - while the new decade-long Madrid deal is for more than double that amount every year.
And now, La Libre - a Belgian newspaper - is reporting that Spa Grand Prix also needs to significantly up its offer to F1 for a new Belgian GP deal beyond 2025.
That is because Spa currently pays about the same amount as the similarly-endangered Barcelona event.
Based on La Libre's report, Belga news agency explains: "The cost of organising the grand prix at Spa-Francorchamps is increasing year by year.
The costs will rise by 5 million euros in two years - from 23.5 million euros last year to 25 million in 2024 and 28 million in 2025.
Paying more will be difficult for Spa Grand Prix to manage, given that it is wholly owned by the regional Walloon government.
Spa Grand Prix organises the race but has never been able to balance its budget, the report said. "And the region has done all it can to reduce the deficit.
According to Walloon economy minister Willy Borsus, the deficit in 2023 was 3.2m euros, compared to 5.6m in 2022 and 7.3m in 2021.