Speculation has been rife about the Spanish Grand Prix after the government suggested it could reconsider the future of the event given the difficult economic situation. Circuit de Catalunya boss Salvador Servia spoke about the event's prospects.
Q. There has been speculation about the race's future following comments from the government about reconsidering costly things like the GP. What is the real situation?
Salvador Servia: The reality is we have a contract until 2016 and we are working toward the 2012 race and 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.
Q. Given the economic situation, is it viable to continue with the current contracts?
SS: 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 moneys to survive and it seems you can't count on them at the moment. That's the sad reality. But it conditions things, if we continue with this crisis affecting both the government and the fans who struggle to come to the circuit.
Q. Does the Formula 1 business model have to change so the grands prix are viable for the circuits without the financial support from governments?
SS: The main thing is for the fan to come to the circuit. If the fans come, then there is no problem. But with the [economic] 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 and we are trying to react and trying to see if at least in 2012 we manage to stop the decrease and start a new era in which we start to recover and then have better hopes for the future.
Q. Does Ferrari's and Fernando Alonso's performance affect ticket sales much?
SS: No one can measure that, but I'm sure it does. If in the first four races of the season Ferrari and Alonso had performed as they did in the final four then I'm sure it would have had a positive impact for us. Right now we have all our hopes pinned on what happens in 2012.
Q. Bernie Ecclestone has mentioned he's not interested in alternating Valencia and Barcelona. Is that even an option?
SS: 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.
Q. You haven't talked about extending the current deal, have you?
SS: No, because it's not the moment, that's clear. We have a contract until 2016 and the moment would be 2015 and I hope things are better by then and we can talk about 2050 [laughs]. We have to think about that when we are successful again in terms of attendance. 2011 was the worst of the last seven or eight years, and this is not a success. So it's not the moment. It's the moment to work to turn things around.
Q. What do you think about Ecclestone's comments that Europe is finished for Formula 1?
SS: He has his business and he has to deal with it as best as he can, and his comments obviously go in that direction. He has a lot of Asian clients and people from all continents who are willing to pay huge sums, so it's normal that he doesn't care too much if one European race falls off the calendar.
Q. Last year some promoters expressed concerns about how the 2014 engine sounds could be a turn-off for the fans. Is there really a worry that it could drive them away from the circuits or is it exaggerated?
SS: First of all I think we have to have a little confidence in the people in charge. Formula 1 has changed a lot technically over the course of its history and the interest has not disappeared, so I don't think they can make a mistake that will drive interest away.
I think races are always interesting as long as the regulations manage to keep the cars close to each other. I don't think it's as important as to be alarmed about it. And if it turns out to be a disaster, then they will have to change things again.