World champion Max Verstappen has said that Formula One must retain “iconic” tracks such as Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps, even if the trend is towards more lucrative street circuits.
Spa, and the southern French Le Castellet circuit where Formula One races this weekend, face uncertain futures with new venues such as Miami, Las Vegas, Jeddah and Doha squeezing into a schedule set to expand to 24 races.
There has been talk of races, perhaps even Monaco, alternating to make room.
Red Bull’s Verstappen, who is Dutch but was born in Belgium, said rural Spa was his favourite track and had to stay.
“It’s just a great track to drive… I understand that to get there compared to other tracks, it’s probably a little bit more difficult sometimes with the traffic,” the 24-year-old said.
“I don’t want to see myself in 2028 or whatever driving only on street circuits close to the city just for the fan engagement or whatever.
“I understand everyone wants to make money, but there is also a limit to that because it’s important to keep these really cool circuits on the calendar instead of just driving on street circuits, which I think F1 cars are not designed for anyway.”
The Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet, to the east of Marseille and on a plateau with limited road access, first hosted Formula One in 1971.
French driver Pierre Gasly said: “This year is potentially, unfortunately, the last time we [the French] have a grand prix. It might not be on the calendar next year. So it will be important to enjoy every second of it.
“What’s sad is that on the other hand, Spa is probably my favourite track on the calendar… it’s such a beautiful track, great place for racing and I think at the end of the day, it will be a loss, a loss for us as Formula One racing drivers.”
Spa, the longest track on the calendar and one of the fastest, has been part of the championship since 1950, although it has been absent in some years.