The future of the Belgian Grand Prix would again appear to be up in the air as the Spa-Francorchamps circuit has had its operating licence suspended for the next 17 years.
The decision comes from the Council of State, effectively Belgium’s supreme administrative court, after a noise complaint was made by a board of local residents in 2007.
It resulted in the track operators being ordered to undertake an environmental impact study, which has been described in a Council of State ruling as “seriously inadequate and incomplete.”
That has resulted in the licence suspension until 2026, with the decision coming as a major shock to circuit director Pierre-Alain Thibaut.
“The whole viability of the circuit may be questioned,” remarked Thibaut on lesoir.be, a Belgian news website.
“Since the filing of the complaint, the situation has changed. The circuit has worked hard to reduce noise, and relations with local residents has improved.
“It is a difficult situation, but we’ve made commitments vis-a-vis a range of people, and we must comply on pain of having to pay damages.
“We will challenge the government, and organise a dialogue with the board of residents.”
The race was already under discussion after it was confirmed on the Sunday of this year’s event just over three weeks ago that it had made a £2.6m loss.
It prompted the president of the race organisers, Etienne Davignon, to suggest the prospect of renegotiating its current contract with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, or even alternating the event with another circuit such as Germany’s Nurburgring.