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Max Verstappen

Verstappen fears loss of 'iconic' tracks: I don't want to only race on streets

Max Verstappen has concerns that F1 is moving away from traditional race tracks to chase fan engagement with street races in city centres.

To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen has questioned Formula 1's recent push for city centre street races, warning against the loss of "iconic" circuits such as Spa-Francorchamps.

As F1 enjoys a popularity boom, more venues are expressing an interest in holding a Grand Prix, and are prepared to pay what is demanded of them.

The current F1 season is set to run to 22 races, with the current Concorde Agreement, which expires in 2025, allowing for a maximum of 24 Grands Prix per year.

In 2023, F1 will head to Las Vegas for a night race along the famous Strip, while Qatar will also return at a yet-to-be-confirmed venue after the football World Cup.

China is yet to make its comeback, but given the importance of the market, and once the COVID-19 situation is under control, F1 will return to Shanghai.

F1 is also locked in complex negotiations over a South African Grand Prix at Kyalami – with a deal yet to be struck.

As a result of the extra interest and new/returning races, European-based circuits such as Paul Ricard and Spa are deemed vulnerable to the chop.

Verstappen finds this unpalatable, warning against the increase of street venues.

Spa is iconic and F1 should reconsider, says Verstappen

"It's sad, first of all. [Spa] is my favourite track and I think it is just a great track to drive," the reigning World Champion explained to media including RacingNews365.com.

"I understand that to get there compared to other tracks it's probably a little more difficult sometimes with the traffic, but it's a very iconic track.

"I don't want to see myself in 2028 or whatever driving on street circuit close to the city just for the fan engagement, because you need these kind of iconic tracks on the calendar.

"Of course, I understand that everyone wants to make money, but there's 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.

"I think F1 cars are not designed for [racing on street tracks] anyway."

The rise of street circuits in F1

Over the past few seasons, F1 and owner Liberty Media have tried to increase the number of street tracks in the championship and take Grand Prix racing to so-called 'destination cities'.

Races in Saudi Arabia, Miami and Las Vegas have been announced, while the Vietnamese Grand Prix was abandoned due to political and legal reasons without cars ever taking to the track in Hanoi.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix also joined the calendar, although this was a deal struck under the previous ownership of F1, with Baku now a popular stop on the calendar.

In addition, F1 is set to switch from the Losail International Circuit in Qatar to a purpose-built street track for 2023.

It means that street tracks, full or partial, could make up just under half of all races in the near future, including venues such as Australia, Monaco and Singapore.

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