Domenicali denies selling F1’s ‘soul’ amid call to protect historic races

Stefano Domenicali denies “selling the soul” of Formula 1 as he is urged to “ringfence” four historic races, including the Belgian Grand Prix.

This weekend’s race at Spa-Francorchamps could be the last for the foreseeable future with its contract set to expire and F1 needing to make space for potentially four new or returning events in 2023.

Belgium isn’t alone either in facing the ax with the French GP almost certain to be dropped and the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ at Monaco also still yet to officially sign a new deal for next year.

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The assault on F1’s foundational races has drawn criticism from drivers and fans alike, and Red Bull boss Christian Horner made it clear some circuits should be mainstays on the calendar.

“Spa, for sure. It’s one of those historic races,” he said Sky Sports.

“There should be a few races – Monaco, Silverstone, Spa, Monza – they’re the big ones, the historic ones, and I think we should ringfence and really protect those.

“It’s great that these new venues are coming in and that there is interest but you’ve got to have that history.

“It would be like having the ATP [tennis] tour without Wimbledon. I think they’re part of our history, they’re part of our DNA.

“We [the team bosses] will definitely make our opinion known, but you’ve got to trust the people who are running the business at the end of the day.”

Former Ferrari boss Domenicali was seen as an ideal figure to ensure F1 balanced tradition with the commercial ambitions of owners Liberty Media, and Horner maintains that faith in the Italian.

“Stefano knows what he’s doing. He will guide the investors,” he added.

“They’re obviously driven by their bottom line and where the revenue is and where the interest is going to come from and an extra race in the US versus a race in Spa, that’s what they’re going to have to weigh up.”

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But with big money races in the Middle East and America getting priority on calendar spots at the expense of the European classics, Domenicali defended the approach he was taking as CEO.

“Money is important everywhere, for us too,” he told Germany’s Sports Bild.

“But we don’t just look at that, the whole package has to be right. If we only looked at the bank account, the racing calendar would definitely look different.

“I’m not selling the soul of Formula 1, this is the normal change,” he argued. “We are opening up to the whole world.”

Sure thing, Stefano. Sure thing.

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