FIA gives green light to Belgium

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 February, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 February, 1998, 12:00am

Zhuhai has lost out on hosting a round of the Formula One calendar this year after FIA yesterday gave permission for the Belgium Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps to go ahead as as scheduled on August 30.

Zhuhai was hoping to join the Formula One family this year, but it appears the Chinese city will now have to wait until 1999.

Zhuhai organisers said on Monday they would appeal to FIA, motorsport's world governing body, to consider extending the Formula One season to 17 races if they failed to gain super status in 1998.

The August 30 Belgian race had been under threat after the Belgian Government decided last year to ban all tobacco advertising and sponsorship from January 1, 1999.

Robert Collignon, president of the Walloon region in southern Belgium where the track is located, said in a statement he welcomed the reprieve.

He said FIA president Max Mosley had sent a fax yesterday informing him of the decision.

'FIA has noted with satisfaction the efforts made by the Government and parliament of the Walloon region to keep the Belgian Grand Prix on the calendar of the 1998 F1 World Championship,' the statement quoted Mosley as saying. 'FIA confirms the placing of the Belgian Grand Prix on the 1998 Formula One World Championships on August 30 at Francorchamps.' The race had appeared doomed last week when a Belgian appeal court upheld a law that will introduce a strict ban on all forms of tobacco advertising and sponsorship from next year.

Zhuhai and South Africa had been standing by ready to stage the race if FIA moved it out of Belgium.