The future of the Belgian Grand Prix has been threatened repeatedly in recent years, usually by issues relating to the renowned Spa-Francorchamps circuit's finances or facilities. But now it faces a challenge from a different quarter.
The Belgian circuit has had its operating license suspended for the next 17 years by the nation's supreme administrative court, which was following up on a noise complaint made by a group of local residents back in 2007. The Spa organizers were ordered to undertake an environmental impact study to address the complaints and, although they complied, the court determined the results to be "seriously inadequate and incomplete," prompting today's ruling.
"The whole viability of the circuit may be questioned," circuit director Pierre-Alain Thibaut today told lesoir.be, a Belgian news website. He added, though, that Spa-Francorchamps intends to appeal.
"Since the filing of the complaint, the situation has changed," he said. "The circuit has worked hard to reduce noise, and relations with local residents has improved."
This year's race reportedly made a $4.3m loss, putting additional pressure on the organizers, although the Belgian GP was listed on the 2010 F1 calendar approved by the FIA's World Council earlier this week.