Belgian GP is off

UPDATE #5 "The race has not gone forever, and I'm happy that they've decided to do the re-building work," Ecclestone told The Daily Telegraph.

"Spa has not been up to scratch for quite some time, and they need to spend a bit of time and money on improving the paddock facilities and building new grandstands. If they get their work done on time then there will be no problem at all and the race will be back in 2007, without question."

02/08/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See Hot News page for story.

01/27/06 A local government minister has added another nail to the coffin of the seemingly doomed Belgian grand prix.

Jean Claude Marcourt, economy and employment minister in the historic Spa Francorchamps circuit's region of Wallonia, told parliament on Thursday that the race will indeed be axed by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

He said the main problem was making Bernie's requested circuit modifications in time for the scheduled September race.

For whatever reason, however, the grim messages coming out of Belgium about the race do not match up with what Ecclestone himself, and the sport's governing FIA, are saying on the matter.

75-year-old Bernie explained in the 'Het Niewsblad' newspaper: ''The Belgian grand prix can take place in 2006.''

01/22/06 According to Belgian reports Bernie Ecclestone will be organizing the Belgian Grand Prix himself starting from 2007. It more and more looks like it that we will not have a race this year at the famous Spa-Francorchamps track. The Walloon government and Ecclestone are apparently not talking about 2006 anymore, but about the period 2007-2012. Ecclestone would be organizing the race himself, without interference of the Walloon government. All the government has to do is pay back a damage fee of 18 million euros and invest 15 million euros in the track per the contract.

01/21/06 F1's governing body has refused to verify claims that the 2006 Belgian grand prix at historic Spa Francorchamps will be axed.

Local politician Serge Kubla told parliament on Friday that he had been given the unhappy news by Bernie Ecclestone, despite the F1 supremo's recent hint that he may assume the bankrupt promoter's role.

But a journalist for the British 'Daily Telegraph' broadsheet wrote in a column on Saturday that the FIA 'were not taking (Kubla's) claims seriously'.

''(Bernie) Ecclestone, perhaps significantly, was unavailable for comment,'' the journalist, Kevin Garside, added.

01/20/06 The 2006 Belgian grand prix, at highly-popular Spa Francorchamps, is off.

That's the unhappy revelation of Belgian radio station 'Bel-RTL' and local (Wallonian) politician Serge Kubla, who told the parliament on Friday that he was informed officially by Bernie Ecclestone's company.

With the race's promoter broke, Ecclestone, 75, had been tipped to take over the organization of Spa's historic event. But while the 2007 grand prix should be ok, Bernie is reportedly refusing to sanction the September race because work on a new pit and paddock complex will not be finished.

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