Spa-Francorchamps has become a casualty of the tobacco war and has been axed from the F1 calendar. The Belgian government has insisted that tobacco advertising must be removed for 2003, three years ahead of the other EU countries.
Although FIA President Max Mosley has left the door open for its return in 2004, recent GP contracts with China and Bahrain will make it difficult for Spa to be reinstated.
Formula One’s sporting rules have also undergone major revision in response to concerns over the quality of racing and falling TV viewing figures.
For only the fourth time in the 52-year history of the championship, the points system has been revised. In 2003, the first eight finishers will score points: 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. The last revision was in 1991 when an extra point was awarded for a win, while the 9-6-4-3-2-1 system had been in place from 1961.
Other changes include an overhaul of qualifying, which will now be on a single-flying-lap-per-car basis on Saturday afternoon.