Spa must pay to keep hosting popular GP - Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has played down the prospect of easing the financial conditions for struggling traditional grands prix, including the much-loved Belgian race at Spa-Francorchamps.
Despite the event's global popularity, less than 55,000 tickets have been sold for Sunday's running, which because of the high fee payable to the sport guarantees a multi million euro loss for the local promoters.
It is a similar story for other traditional European events on the calendar, but F1 chief executive Ecclestone insists they must compete for their places with those other countries desperate to associate with his sport.
"I love Belgium and I would be very happy to keep Spa, a wonderful traditional race, on the calendar," the Briton is quoted as saying by the French language Belgian newspaper La Libre.
It is believed Spa has a contract to host F1 until 2012, but the ongoing willingness of the local Walloon government to pick up the losses is in question.
Ecclestone said: "That's normal. Governments in other countries pay much more and I have at least five requests for new races outside of Europe.
"The value of F1 is high," the 78-year-old insisted. "If you want to drive a Mercedes, you have to earn your money and pay dearly."
It is reported that one option for Spa is to annually alternate the race hosting rights from 2013 onwards with another circuit; probably the Nurburgring in Germany.
"We are thinking about this solution," Ecclestone confirmed, "but nothing is decided."