Zurich Gnome

The journal of a Swiss-based motor-racing enthusiast.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Belgian Chocolate

If you ask any fan what their favourite F1 circuit is, it's more than likely they'll mention Spa. Spa Francorchamps, to give it's full name, is one of the most historic circuits around. Originally run on public roads, and then converted to a permanent circuit it is one of the fastest and most challenging tracks on the calendar. Drivers love it too, but today we hear that the Belgian GP is in danger as the promoter is likely to go bankrupt.

Now forgive me, but how can a sport where it costs as much as $20 million dollars to put just a single Ferrari, McLaren or Toyota on the grid for each race, be short of cash? That's around $3 Billion that the teams spend to put their cars on the grid each year. And yet the GP promoters have to pay around $10-15 million to host a race, money which goes into the pockets of FOM, run by Bernie Ecclestone. And they can't even sell advertising space as that gets signed over to FOM too. So they can only make money from selling tickets and hospitality (apart from the high margin Paddock Club for the elite, because that is run by, you guessed it, FOM). TV rights? FOM. That's why Bernie Ecclestone's family is the third richest in Britain, with assets over $3 Billion.

Why screw every last penny out of the promoters? Why prevent them from investing in new infrastructure, like decent sanitation and car parks? It just doesn't make sense and now it's possible that we lose the best Grand Prix on the calendar because it's not possible to pay a ludicrous fee to someone who has more money than he could spend in a hundred lifetimes.

Which begs the question: what is the point of Belgium if it doesn't have a Grand Prix? I guess some people would answer "Chocolate". But Zurich Gnome lives in Zurich (no surprise there then) and Zurich is in Switzerland, so obviously Swiss chocolate knocks the spots off the Belgian variety.  That means that unless Bernie steps in to help, I'll never have a reason to go to Belgium.    


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