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Spa halts ticket sales

NEWS STORY
16/04/2020

With yesterday's announcement that the lockdown in Belgium is to be extended, with a total ban on all public gatherings until the end of August, the future of this year's race at Spa-Francorchamps was immediately placed in doubt.

Today, officials at the Belgian track have issued a brief statement in which they give their support to the decision, whilst announcing that ticket sales have been suspended.

"Spa Grand Prix acknowledges the federal government’s decision to ban all mass events until August 31st," read the statement. "We support this decision because your health and that of all the Belgian Grand Prix’s stakeholders is our priority.

"As a consequence, from today, all ticket sales for the 2020 edition of our national Grand Prix will be suspended," it continued. "As for the ticket holders, we will obviously respect our general terms and conditions of sale. We will keep you informed of any development as soon as possible.

"In the interests of us all, the priority is, and should remain, for each and every one of us to respect the measures set out. Be safe, follow the official recommendations, avoid unnecessary contact and stay home as much as possible. Take care of your loved ones."

The move by the Belgian government comes just 48 hours after its French counterpart announced a similar ban on public gatherings until mid-July, a move which casts doubt on the race at Paul Ricard in June.

Meanwhile, in Italy, the Automobile Club d'Italia (ACI), which promotes the Grand Prix at Monza, has warned that F1 cannot afford a repeat of the Melbourne fiasco.

"We can no longer afford to make mistakes like Australia," ACI president, Angelo Sticchi Damiani told Gazzetta dello Sport, "when the GP was cancelled with the public already at the track.

"That was a setback for everyone, from Liberty Media to the teams, to the local organisers. To start again and then be forced to stop would be a disaster."

Italy, home to two of the current F1 teams and Pirelli, not to mention its links to Haas, has been at the epicentre of the coronavirus in Europe, and as of today only the United States and Spain have been hit harder in terms of confirmed cases.

With the country showing no sign of easing up on its lockdown, Sticchi urged the sport to remain cautious.

"We are going through a situation of great uncertainty and in this moment we must act with caution and attention," he said. "The priority is to understand what happens in the countries that host the Grands Prix and in Italy and Great Britain, where most of the people in the paddock come from."

Asked about a request from the teams that they would need three-months notice in order to be prepared for the season to get going, Sticchi feels that 60 days should be enough notice.

"The teams have asked for ninety days notice to start again and if we think about July we would already be late," he said. "Maybe there will be a rethink and sixty will be enough."

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