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Button desperate not to lose Spa from calendar

NEWS STORY
17/08/2022

Jenson Button has joined the growing number of drivers calling on F1 bosses not to drop Spa-Francorchamps from the schedule.

Though Formula One is all too keen to use its long, rich history to its advantage, especially for promotional purposes, over the years, be it drivers, teams or circuits, all too often we have seen the sport turn its back on them when they have served their purpose.

Every year when the circus arrives at Spa-Francorchamps, adjectives like 'majestic' are the order of the day, just as, a few days later, the Autodromo Nazionale is given the same gushing praise, terms like Temple of Speed used unsparingly.

The stark reality is however, that as majestic as Spa might be, however demanding it is of drivers and their machines, the classic Ardennes track is no match for the likes of Miami, Qatar, Jeddah or Las Vegas. in terms of hosting fees or attracting the A-list celebrities the sport needs in order to convince potential fans that F1 is the new thing.

While it might have played host to almost all the sport's great heroes, witnessed epic battles and remains a firm favourite of almost every contemporary racer, Spa, certainly as far as Liberty Media is concerned, will never be seen as the ideal backdrop... the likes of Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B or whatever, unlikely to don a Drizabone and wellies in order to enjoy a quick chat with Martin Brundle on the grid.

Consequently, as the sport seeks to expand to as many as 24 races - thirty if Stefano Domenicali gets his way - Spa is likely to be among the first to be dropped as F1 seeks the next Miami or Qatar.

A winner there in 2012, Jenson Button admits losing Spa would be a huge loss to the sport and would upset him personally.

"If Spa isn't there I'll be very upset," said the 2009 world champion in a recent WTF1 podcast.

"Monaco is a tricky one because there's lots going on behind the scenes," he continued. "But if you take away Spa, it's for other reasons, not because it's not a good circuit. It's one of the best in the world, the racing's amazing, the drivers love it and the teams love going there.

"We have to be a little bit careful," he warned. "We know Formula 1 is entertainment and a certain TV show has made it very famous in America, which is great for the sport. But we need to make sure we keep the racing exciting and going to circuits that give us great racing because you're going to see happy drivers.

"You're going to get a lot more out of them if they're in a good place, not thinking <br>why are we at this track? It's not fun, we can't overtake, it's too narrow'.

"I like the mix of having street circuits and old school tracks, but we can't be going to all city centres, and just going there because of the location. It needs to be because of the track itself and the country it's in too because that's how you get the fan-base. And having a fun race to watch on TV, with lots of fighting, is important too."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by kenji, 17/08/2022 1:28

"@ Max Noble....the days when AJ was part of the commentating team for CH10 were a hoot. The feed was rubbish but the team were certainly entertaining. Ther was very little doubt that AJ had spent too much time in the 'green room' prior to going on air. In the end it was all rather embarrassing....I spent a short time with him at Bathurst one year...he certianly was no 'shrinking violet' . He had some very strong opinions! "

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2. Posted by Mad Matt, 16/08/2022 13:01

"@Max Noble. A great shame then. I thought the whole point of Australia was to remind the rest of us that sometimes it's good to call a spade a shovel :-)"

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3. Posted by Max Noble, 16/08/2022 11:33

"@Mad Matt - ten thousand years ago we had Alan Jones - that got stomped on long ago. He was a crack-up! He simply said things no one could say and keep a job on TV these days. One of his appearances he was telling people on live Aussie TV that he was selling off his F1 Trophies due to “personal circumstances”. A remarkable slice of Aussie TV. Total classic killed by Fox Sport long ago…"

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4. Posted by Mad Matt, 16/08/2022 11:04

"I love Spa and have been lucky enough to go there on many occasions. Tracks like Spa, Suzuka... I'd even add tracks like Baku to the list... have character and bring so much to F1.

So many of the recent tracks are just what I'd call "candy floss", they appear "big" bu they turn to nothing in your mouth and have almost no taste at all....

As for British bias, I often watch the Sky coverage but skip all the intro stuff and just watch the race... it seems OK to me. The F1 TV commentary was also not bad. I've tried the French (Belgium and France) and Dutch (Flemish and Dutch) coverage and overall the Sky UK coverage is pretty good and I can forgive the occasional bias. I used to like the Belgian RTBF coverage but it went down hill after Theirry Boutsen left.

Is there no home grown Ozzie F1 coverage?"

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5. Posted by kenji, 16/08/2022 9:36

"@RockDoc...thanks for the good natured response..appreciated. My lineage going back 2 and 3 generation on one side are also Brits hailing from Cornwall and Norfolk. All Aussies, excluding the aborigines, have similar backgrounds."

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6. Posted by TokyoAussie, 16/08/2022 4:19

"Stuff the celebrities. Give us Spa. Cancel Monaco if need be."

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7. Posted by Rock Doc, 16/08/2022 3:44

"@Kenji I'm British but I still had a laugh at your comment. Thanks. I remember the comment as well and it reminded me of the world cup comments not so long ago when England almost got to the finals.

I was just glad he didn't say English which is what the English press would usual say. Any the Scots, Irish or Welsh know what I mean.

"

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8. Posted by kenji, 16/08/2022 0:22

"Like so many others here, Spa is something special....a bit like Monaco in a sense that they both embody the extremes of F1 like 'bookends'. Both races are always eagerly awaited. It's what goes on in the middle which will prove to be the main problem when looking to curate a calendar to meet all wants and needs of an ever expanding audience. While they are at it I would dearly like to see this 'global competition really reflect that description by dumping a vast number of Brit commentators and talking heads who are unashamedly jingoistic and do nothing more that feed their egos and past glories. What should happen, IMO, is that every race held out of the UK Sky should field teams made up of a minimum 50% of local sports broadcasters/ commentators , where possible. Just recently whilst Lazenby was fawning over the Brit drivers he stated that, 'gee wow' three out of the top five were Brits'. Barf material!!! If F1 is truly an international comp then lets have a truly international team of commentators. A bit of balance is needed."

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9. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 15/08/2022 19:44

"Which European race do you drop then? LM has been hot to drop Spa for a while. If the profits are there, maybe Spa can stay? A loss leader, but needed for the Franchise. Let's hope."

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10. Posted by jo6pac, 15/08/2022 18:16

"Yep kill a great race track and 2 more boring street tracks:-("

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11. Posted by Rock Doc, 15/08/2022 15:20

"Spa is the race I wait for each year. It is the track that sorts out who the great drivers really are. There are no other tracks like Spa on the calendar.

It has always seemed to be under threat but I fear that this might be the end of such a wonderful track."

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12. Posted by Anthony, 15/08/2022 13:25

"Completely agree with Jenson and other readers who have commented below."

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13. Posted by Roli, 15/08/2022 12:57

"Afraid to say this, but losing Spa will mark the beginning of the end for F1. I will switch off and not follow F1 again. As I said in another post, why not have all the races in the USA ? "

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14. Posted by Editor, 15/08/2022 12:43

"@ Superbird70

Rest assured... that was merely the set-up for the line about Zak and his 3 XL T-Shirt"

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15. Posted by Superbird70, 15/08/2022 12:36

"Alas, even Pitpass reports on the effect of celebrity hype, "Meanwhile, in a move likely to add to Daniel Ricciardo's following, and thereby F1's, at the weekend singer Harry Styles was spotted sporting a Daniel Ricciardo T-Shirt.""

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