Losing a classic track like Spa-Francorchamps would be unthinkable according to Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi, who described such venues as “the lifeblood of F1”.
Classic circuits are increasingly threatened by newer circuits in the Middle East and Asia, where huge government subsidies mean race organisers can pay far higher fees without the pressure of making a profit.
That isn’t the case for most European tracks which must push for financial stability, whilst also meeting the demands of Bernie Ecclestone and Formula One Management.
That balancing act has led to the demise of several races in Europe, most recently the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, whilst venues like Monza are fighting for their place on the calendar.
That simply isn’t acceptable according to Gastaldi who insists the sport needs a mix of historic and new market races.
“In my opinion it is vital,” he said when asked of the importance of races like Spa. “These tracks are the lifeblood of F1. There wouldn’t be a tennis season without Wimbledon or a golf season without the Masters at Augusta.
“These circuits need to be maintained in F1 because the fans identify with them so much and they nearly always create excitement.
“I think we have a good balance of tracks in F1. Some traditional like Spa, Silverstone and Monza, some great street circuits like Monaco and Singapore and then newer F1 markets like Russia, the Middle East and the US.
“F1 should be about variety in every context while at the same time being relevant to partners, fans and teams alike.”
With the Belgian GP up next, Gastaldi explained just why it has a special place in the heart of so many fans, drivers and team members.
“Simple, the track,” he explained. “The atmosphere is unique as well, but ultimately Spa is all about the challenge that it presents to the drivers. Just watching them attack the classic corners like Eau Rouge and Pouhon is a thrill.
“It must be amazing to drive this rollercoaster in the forest; it’s like the track reflects the ups and downs of everything in F1,” he added.
“We’ve seen so many times over the years the epic races that have played out at Spa; Michael Schumacher making his debut there in 1991, then winning the Grand Prix with us as Benetton the following year, Damon Hill winning Jordan’s first race or our former driver Giancarlo Fisichella coming so very close to winning there in 2009.
“It’s a great place to be and always delivers a superb spectacle.”