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Why the Belgian Grand Prix looks set to stay for 2023

With negotiations for a South African GP dragging on, the Belgian GP looks set to remain on the F1 calendar for 2023 at least.

The Belgian Grand Prix looks likely to remain on the F1 calendar for 2023, with question marks surrounding some of the races that had been set to replace it. With Las Vegas joining F1 in 2023, and Qatar and China set to return, it has long appeared that existing races will need to drop off an already-bloated calendar in order to create room for new events. The French Grand Prix appears likely to have been given the chop for 2023, but with F1 also mooting the return of a South African Grand Prix at Kyalami for the first time since 1993, another slot on the calendar may need to be created.

Belgium's future GP prospects dependent on South Africa

While the race at Spa-Francorchamps initially seemed safe, that changed when South Africa entered the picture. If a deal were to be reached with South Africa for 2023, it would likely mean the provisional end of the race in Belgium, with that country's current F1 deal expiring at the end of 2022. RacingNews365.com learned earlier this year that Formula 1 had offered a new two-year contract to the Belgian GP organisation, which the Belgian side turned down as they were seeking a five-year deal. In June, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali held talks with South African Grand Prix Corporation executives with the aim of striking a deal for a Grand Prix in Africa, the only continent without a round of the F1 World Championship. However, the facilities at the Kyalami circuit are believed to require considerable upgrading to meet the standard necessary to stage a Grand Prix, and it is unclear as to who would foot the bill, with the South African government refusing to underwrite the event.

Deadlines looming

With the 2023 calendar expected to be announced within the next few weeks, it appears unlikely that a South African Grand Prix will be confirmed by then. There are also questions over the future of the Chinese Grand Prix, which has been missing from the calendar since 2019 due to the country’s Covid policies. Though the Shanghai race recently extended its deal with F1 until 2025, the country's zero-Covid approach looks set to continue for the foreseeable future, and strict restrictions on both the staging of large events and the movement of people in and out of the country would not appear to be compatible with hosting a Grand Prix. All of this is good news for Spa, because if races in South Africa and China do not come to fruition, the Belgian GP will most likely be granted a reprieve, at least for 2023.

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