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Spanish races to alternate

NEWS STORY
12/05/2012

Bernie Ecclestone confirms that Spain's two Grands Prix will alternate from next year, while a return to France now looks unlikely.

Despite having two Spanish drivers on the grid and a local team, the Spanish Grand Prix is not drawing the crowds it once did, while Valencia - which hosts the European Grand Prix - has never captured the public's imagination.

At Barcelona, while ticket sales are holding up, certainly compared to last year, in times of austerity they are not selling enough. "Here for things to go well, we have to have 120,000 people and if it's under 100,000 it's a disaster," Salvador Servia, director general of the circuit, told Reuters. "Our problem is that the circuit is 80 percent owned by the Catalan government. The government does not have money and does not know when it will have it."

Consequently, a deal has been agreed which will see the Spanish Grand Prix alternate between Barcelona and Valencia from next season even though the Valencia street track isn't popular with fans, drivers or broadcasters.

"We have a contract until 2016, but things can change," said Servia. "We want to continue but the circumstances are not simple. We've already started sales for 2013... 2013 is ours."

Confirming the deal, Bernie Ecclestone said: "The (Spanish) race will be here in 2013 and 2014 in Valencia."

Meanwhile, the recent elections in France, which saw Francois Hollande takes the reigns, spells doom in terms of the return of Grand Prix racing to the country which gave us the sport.

Only a few weeks ago it appeared certain that F1 was heading back to France, albeit to the Le Castellet track owned by Ecclestone. The move would have seen the event rotate on an alternate basis with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps.

However, speaking yesterday, the F1 supremo admitted that the elections had left the future of the race very much in doubt. "I have no idea. No idea what they are doing," he told Reuters. "It's a funny arrangement they were making anyway. So I just don't know."

Meanwhile, Ecclestone played down talk that the Canadian Grand Prix is under threat following demands that the circuit carry out an upgrade.

"They are going to try and rebuild," he said. "It needs a bit of an upgrade I think. They know what we want to do."

"It will happen," he added. "We love Montreal."

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