Organisers of the Belgian and Dutch grands prix have played down reports they will be forced to annually alternate their events from as early as next year.
According to the Belgian broadcaster Sporza, Belgian GP promoter Vanessa Maes will meet in London with Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali on Monday to discuss the future of the fabled Spa-Francorchamps race.
But Maes played down speculation the subject of their conversation will be the rumoured alternation deal with Zandvoort rather than a standard new contract.
“Nothing has been confirmed yet. These are pure speculations,” she insisted.
“I only have a hunch why those messages are being spread just now,” said Maes. “And that could have to do with the news about South Africa in particular.”
It is rumoured that F1 has had to abandon its plans for a 2024 South African GP at Kyalami due to the country’s supposed ties with Vladimir Putin.
Maes says it’s all just rumours.
“It is FOM that communicates about the calendar in F1 and no one else,” she said. “We would prefer to sign a multi-year contract as before, but we will always be happy with what we get.
“Last year we proved that we can organise a grand prix according to current standards and conditions as much as possible and as a reward we received not only congratulations, but also a one-year contract extension,” Maes explained.
“We will have to wait and see what FOM decides now.”
As for the Dutch GP, the rumours said Zandvoort may in fact be missing from the 2024 calendar as the Spa alternation deal begins – despite the circuit’s existing contract.
“Like our colleagues in Francorchamps, we were also surprised by the recent speculation,” said Dutch GP chief and former F1 driver Jan Lammers.
“This literally fell from the sky and it’s hot air.”
Lammers particularly denied the claims that F1 may not go to Zandvoort at all next year.
“We still have 2023, 2024 and 2025 to finish on the contract. We still have a lot to look forward to in Zandvoort,” he said.
When asked if it would be a ’pity’ if the Dutch GP had to take a back seat to F1’s calendar pressures, Lammers insisted: “This is the same as saying that it would be a pity that Max Verstappen retires.”
Another pity would be if Spa-Francorchamps dropped off the schedule.
“Look, Francorchamps is one of the most beautiful circuits in the world,” Lammers said. “I’ve always raced there myself with great pleasure.
“But again, I’m not deciding on that. It’s just something that’s not on the agenda right now.”