Spanish GP: F1 will renegotiate fees for races without fans

MADRID (AP) — Formula One (F1) organisers are open to renegotiating hosting fees for races that may take place without fans this season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the general manager of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya said.

Joan Fontseré told The Associated Press that Liberty Media is “conscious” that if races need to go on without fans the contracts with event promoters will have to be somehow renegotiated.

“They are conscious that this is an exceptional situation,” Fontseré said on Tuesday. “We are obviously on the same page. If they want to keep some races on because of the TV rights, because of the teams … they know that our income (will be reduced), they realise that this year it will be like that, so for sure we are on the same page.”

He said Spanish Grand Prix (GP) organisers at this moment are not even considering a race with fans in Barcelona. He said it’s not only ticket sales that would be affected if the event goes on with empty stands and no hospitality suites.

“When the Catalan government invests in F1, it’s not only for the tickets that we sell, it’s also for the financial impact that the event has in the country, in Catalonia,” Fontseré said. “The economic impact for the country will be very reduced. It means no income for taxis, for hotels … so that changes completely the agreement between the two parties.”

The Spanish GP brings in more than USD173 million to the region, with the total of its financial impact during the year nearing USD325 million, according to data from
the track.

Fontseré said he received a couple of phone calls from F1 CEO Chase Carey to discuss possible solutions for the Spanish GP. He said Carey said the series is trying to run as many races as possible, but it was still too early to know when the season would actually resume, whether it would be in the summer or only in the fall.

File photo shows Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leading the field after the start of the Spanish Formula One race at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain. PHOTO: AP