SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, August 27 (Reuters) – The Spanish Grand Prix will stay on the Formula One calendar in 2020, the sport’s commercial rights holders and race organisers said on Tuesday, with the season set to expand to a record 22 races next year.
The Spanish race will continue to be held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, on the outskirts of the city, for the 30th straight year.
“The decision to continue to stage a round of the pinnacle of motor sport in Spain… is part of our strategy of maintaining Formula One’s European roots, while also currently expanding the championship into new territories,” the sport’s chief executive Chase Carey said in a statement.
“The promoter’s willingness to be part of Formula One going into 2020 is proof of the sport’s ability to act as a catalyst for regions to hold world class events and also to have a positive impact on the area’s economy.”
The contract for the Spanish race ran out after this year’s event in May won by world champion Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes.
That race was attended by 160,428 fans, according to a statement from race organisers.
Hosting the event generates 163 million euros (£148 million) of economic benefit, they added.
Quim Torra, President of the Government of Catalonia, said: “The Formula One Grand Prix… is an important tool to stimulate the economic activity in the country in terms of tourism, as well as in the automobile and entertainment industry.
“Moreover, it gives us the opportunity to show the world the way Catalans are, how we work and what our country is like.”
Spain’s confirmation, which follows Mexico signing a fresh three-year deal earlier this month, paves the way for Formula One to expand beyond its current 21 races.
Germany is set to drop off the current 21-race schedule but a new race in Vietnam and a return to the Netherlands have already been announced.
Italy, home race for the sport’s most popular team Ferrari, has yet to sign a contract extension but local organisers and authorities have given the race the go-ahead.
Formula One teams have already agreed to an expansion of the calendar to 22 races.
(Reporting by Abhishek Takle; editing by Ken Ferris)