Start, Paul Ricard, 1987

Belgium and France to share F1 race from 2013

2013 F1 calendarPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Start, Paul Ricard, 1987
The 1987 French Grand Prix begins at Paul Ricard

The French Grand Prix is set to return to the F1 calendar at the Paul Ricard circuit, according to a report in L’Equipe.

The race will return to the calendar on alternate years, sharing a slot with the Belgian Grand Prix.

This means Spa-Francorchamps will only feature on the calendar in alternate years.

The French round will return to the calendar in 2013 at Paul Ricard, which last held an F1 race in 1990. The track held 14 world championship races beginning in 1971.

Thanks to Gwenouille for the tip.

View the 2012 F1 calendar.

2012 F1 calendar

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135 comments on “Belgium and France to share F1 race from 2013”

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  1. Another awful decision that will only help fill the pockets of the top men in the sport. We can only dread of the day when we’ll have a 20 race season with only one European race that will alternate between the UK, Monaco, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Hungary, France, Turkey…

    It sounds pretty ridiculous, but start thinking realistically of the day when we’ll only have about 5 European races, it’s not that far away. This year it’s 10, next year it will be 9…

    1. that kind of attitude you have is also what drives non-europeans out of f1. There are a lot of tracks outside of europe (Kyalami, aussie tracks, the glen…) and the main issue is not f1 going away from europe but f1 going to bad tracks outside of europe

      1. That’s clearly true. Losing most of the historic tracks would be sad loss, but if they were replaced by awesome new tracks it would not be nearly so bad.

  2. Everyone is going to complain about the loss of Spa. But let’s face facts here – nothing seems to be working to save the race. They get sponsorship, they get government subsidies, they get all manner of financial assistance, and yet there seems to bea permanent cloud over the event. Initiatives that work for other circuits have no effect, and everybody seems to be blaming Bernie instead of asking why. Spa isn’t paying as much as other races, but it’s still struggling. Doesn’t anybody else find this strange? Under this arrangement, at least Formula 1 will still be able to visit Spa. And it’s not like the circuit is alternating with somewhere like Abu Dhabi; Paul Ricard is a great circuit itself.

    1. And it’s owned by Bernie, I suspect that may have something to do with his decision. Saying that, it’s probably the best circuit in France (Magny-Cours is terrible).

      1. Saying that, it’s probably the best circuit in France (Magny-Cours is terrible).

        Magny-Cous and Paul Ricard are the only circuits in France that could host the race.

    2. You’re right to bring up these points, but we’ve now had a big issue with TV rights here in the UK and now we have this announcement about Spa and they are both completely the opposite to what the fans want. Bernie will come out and explain about how this was something he didn’t want to do but felt he had to to even keep Spa on the calendar in any form. That suggests to me that he needs to go, because clearly his business model and way of doing business just isn’t producing the results that the fans want and the sport needs. If the fans become more and more disillusioned, how is F1 going to survive long-term?

      1. now we have this announcement about Spa and they are both completely the opposite to what the fans want

        I actually suspect Spa’s noise curfew is to blame. One of the ways a circuit can offset the costs of a race is to host support races. Those events usually pay a fee to the circuit, which gets put towards the initial sanctioning fee.

        However, because residents complained about it, Spa has a noise curfew (seriously, who moves close to a racing circuit and then whinges about the noise? They should know what they’re getting themselves into.). This means that there can be less support races – GP3 had one forty-five minute practice session instead of two half-hour sessions because of the curfew – which means it’s harder to attract support events, which in turn means there is less money going to the circuit, and less money to offset the initial cost.

        1. Jarred Walmsley
          28th August 2011, 23:23

          (seriously, who moves close to a racing circuit and then whinges about the noise? They should know what they’re getting themselves into.)

          You’d be surprised PM, people tend to try and moan about everything, it’s always someone else’s fault. A similar thing occured here in NZ (granted rugby instead of motorsport), residents around the stadium complained about people parking on the roads thus preventing them from doing the same. So what does the council do, put parking restrictions there so people who live further away get the problem instead of those who live right next door.

          1. Jarred Walmsley
            28th August 2011, 23:25

            oops, slight quote problem there, you get the drift anyway

    3. One of the problems is that Spa has struggled to get the attendence. It gots nearly as many spectators for this year’s Le Mans Series race as for last year’s F1. I do wonder if better access routes and stuff being nearer (including much better public transport links, plentiful non-camping places to stay that are not 30 minutes’ drive away and camping less than an hour’s walk from the circuit) would help Spa’s cause. It certainly helped Silverstone and not attending to such difficulties helped seal Magny-Couers’ and Istanbul’s fates.

      The best circuit in the world is going to struggle to get spectators if they cannot get to the circuit in the first place.

      I have a feeling that Bernie money was the prime motivator for this deal, but you are right to say attendence is a major problem that Spa must tackle to grow, and it would have been even without the fee issue.

      1. I agree with you that Spa not getting that big a crowd makes it hard to make ends meet. Access is part of that, on the other hand Spa tickets are more expensive than those for the German GP events, for example.

        Those noise requirements PM mentions will also hurt the prospects of Spa to get the economics working.
        In the end, I think Bernie is right here, that if this deal secures Spa stays in the program at least every second year, we can be relieved about that.

        1. Well said, Spa once every two years is better than no Spa at all, and I think it is likely it couldn’t afford to do it each year for much longer, so this might be good news, even if it is sad to hear it.

          It is also good to have France back on the calender. Not sure about the merits of Paul Ricard, but I guess they don’t have another candidate that is better at the moment.

    4. Exactly my thoughts. I would much rather have Spa every other year than never at all, and at least it’s sharing the race with a decent track, with some history behind it.

      1. In an ideal world, Spa and Paul Ricard would get their own calendar spots. But if it’s not possible, then the two races alternating with one another is the next best alternative. Especially if the long term future of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps would be in jeopardy.

  3. People are looking at this from the wrong perspective.

    As it stands, Spa cannot afford the grand prix. Therefore, surely its better to have a race there every other year than not having one at all?

    Yes, we all agree that Bernie should get rid of some of the ‘less good’ tracks on the calendar but at the end of the day he has to run F1 as a business. If he’s making money from the new venues then that’s how any prudent businessman would run it.

    A deal alternating events probably isn’t an entirely logical decision from him (why have the fuss of two venues when you could have one who would pay more elsewhere?). So in that respect he might even have saved Spa. Lets just look forward to it when it comes around.

    It’s also great that France once again have a grand prix.

    1. Sharing a race means halving income without halving expenditure. Normally that makes an affordability situation worse.

      Bernie has to run F1 as a business – which means he has to run it considering the long-term as well as the short-term. Due to previously-taken decisions, the short-term is not a problem. All the problem is long-term, so really Bernie should have been prepared to take a little reduction in income now, develop Spa’s and Paul Ricard’s respective capacities for racing (by helping Spa convince the government to improve access and putting some grandstands up at Paul Ricard), and then be able to charge both more when they are ready to take it. That way, by the end of the decade F1 would be more valuable than it will be through standard management, let alone this “short-termist” methodology that is starting to fail. Bernie’s already set himself up for a massive loss in TV revenue stream; the last thing he needs is to send signals that he cannot keep circuits his series needs.

      1. That would have made it a really positive and future oriented deal. But I fear Bernie is not looking that far into the future, as you say.

      2. That sounds like a solid long term plan, which FOTA, and maybe FIA should work towards. Like you and Bas, I too don’t think Bernie is doing thinking about that sort of long term.

    2. France already has a Grand Prix, unless you seriously want to argue that Monaco is not a French city in all but name.

      1. unless you seriously want to argue that Monaco is not a French city

        I do. Monaco is recognised as an independent nation. Therefore, the city within Monaco’s borders is considered to be Monegasque – the demonym for the people of Monaco – and not French.

  4. Bernie owns Paul Ricard? Errrr conflict of interest, esp considering the recent corruption allegations!

    Besides that it’s a terrible decision anyway, nearly as bad as a mere 5 place grid drop for Maldonado.

    1. Errrr conflict of interest, esp considering the recent corruption allegations!

      Not at all. For some reason, people assume the money from circuit sanctioning fees goes straight into Bernie’s pocket. It does not. It goes to FOM, who distribute it out to pre-determined receipients. Bernie gets a cut, but it’s only a small percentage.

      1. Bernie’s “pre-determined” amount is quite substantial.

      2. FOM or Bernie…not big difference

        1. All the difference in the world. Circuit sanctioning fees get paid out to cover infrastructure, transport, marketing, paying of CVC and half a dozen other expenditures.

          1. He is awarding an F1 contract to his own circuit, which is obviously going to generate him income as the circuit owner. Whilst the circuit pays FOM for the right to stage the GP, it clearly makes money from the event at the same time, and out of the money it does pay to FOM, Bernie gets a cut! I call corruption.

  5. I think this was a good decision. France and Paul Ricard deserve a spot in the F1 calendar. It’s not like Spa has been taken away from us, and we’ve managed without Spa for a couple of seasons beforehand.

    Alternating between Hockenheim and Nurburgring kept those circuits going.

    Of course, once the Valencia contract runs out, it should be booted out, and replaced by French GP proper, in my opinion.

  6. When will Bernie do F1 a favour and die? The old codger is screwing the sport!

    1. How disrespectful. For one, you don’t know the details of the situation and if it wasn’t for Bernie the sport would not be what it is today, at least from a commercial point of view.

      Get some perspective, this is only sport. You’re talking about someone’s life.

    2. How do you know Bernie is to blame?

    3. Stupidest comment of the day.

      1. Would it be prudent to mention Bernie is only a figure-head and a non executive employee of CVC, who own the rights to Formula 1. He sold his controlling stake some time ago, but remained as part of the terms of the sale.

        I just came back from Spa, it was packed,so ‘circuit access’ and tickets prices are not the issue.

        The issue is Formula 1 must balance the need to retain historic tracks which are central to its appeal with the need to make money to support the teams in the franchise, and to make money for the owners and its shareholders.

        The reason the ‘crap’ races are not under the spotlight is because the funding comes in regardless of the viewing numbers/ attendance in that country. Spa/ Silverstone/ Monza/ Monaco etc are already given relatively lower fees in order to try and keep the on the calendar because CVC realises the eurpean govt.s will not cover the losses like the Chinese govt do.

        The reason the Spa event is under threat is because it doesn’t have a successful business model:

        Spa francorchamps pay CVC (not Bernie) $25 million per year to host an F1 race.

        100,000 spectators* $150 average entrance price =$15 million tops. When the Shell sponsor money and govt subsidy doesn’t cover the difference, Spa gets dropped. Same as Turkey, the same reason Nurburgring/ Hockenheim alternate every year, the same thing is happening down in Melbourne too.

        Sad, because Spa is one of the best, but this is the reality. Bernie has nothing to do with it. And try actually paying to attend an F1 event, then it will be worth listening to you all moan about expense. When all said and done, CVC is selling an valuable product that’s in demand, you would do the same in that situation.

        Ow and Maldonado is one lucky man and that stunt.

        Rant over

  7. In a way this is Bernie fault but he wouldn’t want this in an ideal world, it’s just he charges so much for a circuit contract it’s the only way tracks can keep their races on the calender.

  8. We don’t know the details of this deal so I’m going to reserve proper judgment. We know Spa is poorly attended and at the end of the day this has to work for all involved.

  9. Everyone is saying this news is bad – personally I think it’s great news. It means that we’re guaranteed races at Spa in the future, which we couldn’t really say before because of the circuit’s money issues. It also means we get to have a race in France! Unfortunately it’s at Paul Ricard rather than Magny-Cours – which I thought was a wonderful circuit (even if it didn’t produce great racing). I’ve never actually seen a race at Paul Ricard, and I’m not a hundred percent on the layout they’ll be using, because it has loads, as it was built specially as a test track. I’m quite looking forward to it!

  10. You are welcom Keith !

    I feel sorry for Spa, it is such a nice track…
    Why not alternate with one of the spanish borefests ???

  11. well, it is a shame to get spa only every second year, but the problem was simple : spa (or whoever is in charge of the circuit) loses money every time they organise a GP because bernie is asking for too much.

    So instead of losing yet another great track, todt fought for a compromise : we keep spa and we get back a french GP, on a famous track, to share the costs.

    after all is not a bad news. it shows that Todt wants to keep the f1 in its historical countries.
    we already lost imola and hockenheim. monza is not looking good. interlagos and suzuka neither.

    1. Nowhere is looking good, except Silverstone, China and Valencia (those three tracks have really long deals).

      1. Kind of understandable given how screwed up the global economy has been in the past 3 years.

  12. Ridiculous situation. Don’t the concorde agreement protect the “classic tracks” from being taken out of the calendar? Or is it just a myth?

    Anyway, I think Formula 1 loses too much without Spa. People say Monaco is the spiritual home of F1, with its glamour, seaside views, narrow corners, etc, etc, and it’s not wrong.

    On the other hand, I think the true spirit of F1 is on long tracks that cross european woods and hills and valleys in local roads connecting small towns (after all, Spa circuit is in fact “Spa-Francorchamps”).

    I know there’s nothing like that anymore, but the closest example still standing is Spa-Francorchamps track, with ist 7km. Nurburgring by now is common autodrome.

    My only hope is that, with the soverign debt crisis, Spain won’t be able to host two Grand Prix per season for too long, and then one of its tracks might be taken out once their contracts expire, so Spa can come back to its permanent slot.

    In fact, my best hope is that it is just a fake rumor…

    1. Don’t the concorde agreement protect the “classic tracks” from being taken out of the calendar? Or is it just a myth?

      Myth. The Concorde Agreement sets out the commercial arrangement between FOM and the teams. It has no power to influence the calendar. And even if it did, having Spa every other year technically satisfies the requirement that “classic circuits” remain on the calendar.

      1. Ok. And it’s sad… :(

  13. I believe this when I see it happen!

  14. Well, I’d rather have Spa once every two years thatn never again, so it’s sort of a good thing. But how do we go about getting Spa back on to the calendar permanently? Simple, we all buy tickets for the Belgian/French GP’s from 2013 and continue to do so for so long as it takes for the business cases of these races to justify booting out one of the “boring races”! Come on F1F’s let’s make it happen! ;)

  15. Why don’t people understand that swapping Paul Ricard with somewhere like Valencia or Bahrain is simply not possible? Spa is obviously the only circuit on the calendar where this is a) feasible under the terms of the contract, and b) the organisers are willing to do it.

  16. It’s great to see Paul Ricard back, though we’ve yet to see which of the umteen thousand layouts they will use.

    I would gladly have traded Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Valencia all together just for Paul Ricard.

    … but not Spa!

  17. Paul Ricard is a good circuit, but you just cant do this to Spa. Get rid of valencia, and replace it with Paul Ricard. NO ONE LIKES VALENCIA, ITS ABSOLUTE CRAP

  18. Awful news. But better than what we were hearing last year (or the year before?), that we might lose Spa completely.

    It’s a business. Bernie doesn’t give a damn about anything else. But however many times I try to bang that into my head, it just doesn’t stick. His decisions continually seem morally wrong because they so often go against the wishes of F1 fans.

    How many years of contracts on crap circuits do we have left? :O(

    1. His decisions continually seem morally wrong because they so often go against the wishes of F1 fans.

      I think it’s not only a “moral” issue, but taken Spa or other classic tracks out might be wrong even in the business point of view.

      Without Spa, the “spetacle” loses, the “show” is not as good as it is with cars crossing Eau Rouge flat out.

      Sponsors pay for the show to happen, but the fans (viewers/consumers?) are the reason why sponsors pay for.

      If the viewing figures decrease (isn’t it the other topic?) that sponsors will be less interested.

      I honestly thing that if we have 20 Barcelonas, or Budapests, or Shangais, or Abu Dhabis on the calendar, and no Spas, Suzukas, Interlagos, Montreals, or Silverstones, then many viewers will leave the sport (me included, probably).

      1. oops, “I honestly ‘think'”!


  20. You disappoint me, Bernie

    1. How do you know it was Bernie? You have no proof. For all we know, it was Spa’s idea to do this race-sharing.

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