Silverstone and Spa have lost ‘iconic’ status says former F1 champion

Traditional F1 venues like Silverstone and Spa have been diluted to such an extent they have lost their iconic status, according to former world champion Jacques Villeneuve.

Spa, the venue for last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, will keep its place on the calendar for 2023 at least. That news has been welcomed by drivers, teams and fans, although the venue’s long-term F1 future remains uncertain.

Some of the longest-serving tracks on the calendar are coming under pressure as F1 looks to embrace exciting new destinations. Miami joined the schedule earlier this year while a race in Las Vegas will be added in 2023. F1 is also looking to return to South Africa while street races in South America and other parts of Europe have also been mooted.

READ MORE: F1 needs Spa more than Spa needs F1, insists top Belgian racer Sarah Bovy

Villeneuve knows Spa well, having raced at the popular track during his F1 career. The Canadian was involved in massive shunts at the infamous Eau Rouge section in both 1998 and 1999. However, he insists the corner is not the same challenge nowadays and says a number of F1’s older circuits have lost their charm.

“I am happy that Spa will be on the calendar for at least another year,” he said in his column for Dutch website “It's a great track to drive, really great.

"But, with the modern cars, it has lost some of its charm. Eau Rouge is not really a bend anymore. It's full throttle, even if you're on cold tires and come out of the pit lane with a full tank.

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“It's still extremely dangerous, but it doesn't require real driving skills anymore. The same applies to Blanchimont, you can go all out. Some of the appeal has been lost.”

Villeneuve added: “Truly iconic circuits no longer exist. The old Hockenheim was iconic and it is no more. The Nürburgring is iconic, but we don't go there anymore.

“I wouldn't even call Silverstone iconic now that it's been turned upside down. As an event, it's been great by all the fans, but not by Silverstone itself.”


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