Spanish Grand Prix boss Salvador Servia has played down talk that the future of the race is in doubt – but admitted its ultimate fate is dependent on it attracting fans back to the event.
Although the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona has a deal to host the Formula 1 race until 2016, there have been widespread media reports in recent weeks suggesting that the government was looking at renegotiating its deal to ensure more favorable financial conditions. However, Servia insists that the track is not only happy with its current contract, but it is eager to extend it much more longer-term.
"The reality is we have a contract until 2016 and we are working towards the 2012 race," he told AUTOSPORT in an exclusive interview. "Our intention, if we can, is to continue until 2020.
"We have had Formula 1 here for 20 years and the goal is to have it for another 20. As for the rest, no one has said anything. I read news about meetings but officially I haven't been told anything. If we don't say anything official it's because there is nothing going on. That's the only possible position as of today."
Servia also dismissed recent suggestions his venue was looking at agreeing a race-sharing deal with Valencia, after F1 commercial manager Bernie Ecclestone commented last week that Spain should just have one race per year.
"We don't know anything about this. We read media reports which are not always saying the same. We haven't heard anything at all. We have to stop those stories. If something happens one day then we'll say it, but nothing has happened at all. No one has ever told us anything."
Servia concedes that the path to a new Spanish GP deal would be eased by the venue attracting bigger audiences in the future, with last year's attendance having been one of the worst for nearly a decade. When asked if the current contract was financially viable based on ticket sales income, Servia said: "That's conditional. I always say the same: if the circuit is full we have no problems. If the circuit is not full, then we need the public money to survive and it seems you can't count of them at the moment. That's the sad reality."
He added: "The main thing is for the fans to come to the circuit. If the fans come, then there is no problem. But with the crisis, attendance has decreased in all circuits.
"We don't believe it will always be like this, but rather that we've had a few bad years. We are trying to react and trying to see if at least in 2012 we managed to stop the decrease and start a new era, where we start to recover and then have better hopes for the future."