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  Friday, 30 August, 2002, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Coulthard backs Spa
Jaguar's Pedro de la Rosa tackles the curves of Spa's mountain-set circuit
Spa provides a unique challenge for drivers
David Coulthard has said it would be "terrible" if Formula One lost Spa-Francorchamps from the calendar as a result of a tobacco-advertising row.

The Scottish McLaren driver said that the Belgian circuit was one of the few remaining classic tracks in F1.

"It is still a high speed challenge for any driver, especially Eau Rouge (corner). You have to keep the faith there and it is so rewarding when you come out of the corner."

Coulthard said too many modern F1 tracks were no real challenge for the drivers.


Each year I fight with the Belgians for their race - it seems as they don't want their Grand Prix anymore
Bernie Ecclestone

"If you look at Indianapolis that has just one fast corner and banking. My grandmother could take it flat-out, but here is a challenge which we should not lose."

Ralf Schumacher this week dismissed the challenge of Eau Rouge, renowned as the most demanding corner in F1. His views were rejected by other drivers.

The race is under threat because of plans by the Belgian government to impose a tobacco advertising ban from 1 August next year.

The rest of the European Union has exempted F1 until 2006 when a European-wide ban is due to come into force.

That means Belgium could lose its date from 2004 to any one of a number of planned new venues like Bahrain, Turkey and China.

But F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has refused to say whether next year's race could be the last at Spa.

David Coulthard
Spa is Coulthard's favourite circuit

He told Belgian newspaper Le Soir: "I don't know what's going on with the Belgian politicians. Most countries are supportive of their Grands Prix. If there are problems they try to find a solution.

"Each year I fight with the Belgians for their race. It seems as if we've got to a position where they don't want their Grand Prix anymore."

He added: "I'm not feeling welcome here," and complained how Belgian politicians have marked him a "gangster".

"It seems that the making of money is justification enough to be called a criminal," he added.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
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F1 2002
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