Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps has confirmed Amaury Bertholomé as the track’s new CEO, and have provided an update on on-going construction work.
Words – James Gent
Images – Spa-Francorchamps
Amaury Bertholomé has been confirmed as the new CEO of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, following a recruitment process overseen by a jury of the venue’s executive directors. Mr Bertholomé’s new position is effective immediately.
"I am delighted with this decision,” circuit chairperson Melchior Wathelet explains in an official statement. “Hit by the tragic loss of Nathalie Maillet, the Circuit has needed a new CEO, capable of bringing teams together and of continuing the revamp of the Circuit initiated by Nathalie. Amaury Bertholomé knows the structure and the Circuit's challenges in the short and long-term. As part of his previous roles, he has also nurtured ongoing relations with the teams of the Circuit and of Spa Grand Prix. Likewise, he has shown his involvement in the Circuit in the past and his ability to champion it.
“His arrival reinforces our strategy of diversification and anchors the investment plan supported by ING and SOGEPA. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the teams who have been safe hands in the interim to ensure this transition in a difficult context and wish the new CEO great success at the head of the most beautiful circuit in the world."
A Stavelot native, Amaury Bertholomé is a graduate of the University of Liège, and having held political and advisory roles with Union of Cities / Communes and Parliament of Wallonia, he was recently manager of Wallonie-Belgique Tourisme, acting as liaison between the association and the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps between 2017 and 2019.
Updates have also been provided regarding expansion of various run-off areas at Spa-Francorchamps as part of an €80 million, 10-year redevelopment project to modernize the circuit. €21 million of the investment will be provided by the circuit itself, while Sogepa, the investment company of the neighbouring Wallonia government, will provide €29.5m. The remaining €29.5m will be provided via bank loan.
Construction began on 15th November last year.
Contrary to popular belief, the existing track layout at Spa, untouched since its last modification for 2007, will not be affected during the refurbishment. Focus has instead turned to the amount of run-off at several, high-speed sectors of the track.
Among the most noticeable construction sites are at La Source, the run-down to Raidillon and at Eau Rouge, where Armco rails have either been removed or moved back to create more run-off area. The run-off at the high-speed Blanchimont has also been extended, with gravel traps due to replace the tarmac run-off there, as well as at Combes, Malmedy, Bruxelles, Double Gauche, and the final La Chicane. New service roads will also be built at Combes, Malmedy and Blanchimont.
Alongside the extended run-offs, “vitally necessary work” will also be completed on the “ageing” infrastructure for the benefit of fans and competitors. Covered grandstands that are “integrated with [their] environment” will be erected in due course. The example at Raidillon in particular is said to be completed by the end of April and comprise 4,600 seats, plus five VIP boxes big enough for 1,050 occupants.
The new ‘Endurance’ grandstand at La Source meanwhile will feature seating for 4,144 fans, terraced seating for a further 3,000, and two VIP boxes for 400 occupants apiece.
The work will add 13,000 additional seats, doubling Spa’s current capacity.
Run-off construction is expected to be completed ahead of the Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, the third championship round of this year’s 24H SERIES powered by Hankook set to be hosted at the circuit on 22-23-24 April. This year marks the return of the 24H SERIES to the home of the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix for the first time since 2019, and for the fourth time since the series’ inaugural, TCE-dedicated event in 2017.