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A Mediterranean GP for Greece?

NEWS STORY
27/08/2014

Bernie Ecclestone trademarks 'Mediterranean Grand Prix' name as talk of a race in Greece resurfaces.

Despite the country's much publicised financial problems, there has been talk of a race for some years.

In 2011, Pitpass reported that a new F1-spec circuit was set to be built, according to the Ministry for Regional Development and Competitiveness. The 94.6million euro project related to a site 20km south of Patras, the country's third largest city, in a project expected to last two years.

Previously, in 2005 in the wake of the Olympic Games, there were suggestions the old Athens airport could be transformed into a motor racing venue, however those plans were soon scrapped. Other locations were suggested, including the Viotia region, about 100km north of Athens, though nothing came of that either.

In 2007 the Greek Automobile Club (ELPA) announced the signing of a decree by Greek President Karlos Papoulias, specifying minimum circuit requirements. "This decree enables investors to build something and subsequently apply for funding," ELPA chairman Vassilis Despotopoulos told AFP at the time, yet again nothing more was heard of the project.

Arguments for the 2011 project claimed that it would create 500 new jobs, and attract more tourists to the country - the tourism industry accounting for about 15% of its GPD. However foreign politicians slated the idea as 'irresponsible' given that fellow Eurozone members had just handed Greece a 110 billion euro bailout, the country's economy collapsing during the global economic crisis.

According to CNN, Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Licensing division has now trademarked the 'Formula 1 Mediterranean Grand Prix' with the sport's supremo admitting that progress, in terms of race in Greece, is being made.

"The Greeks are keen," he told CNN. "They want me to go and see the Prime Minister or the mayor... we will have to find out if they have got any money."

The proposed track is located in the Keratsini-Drapetsona municipality, six miles to the west of Athens, the brainchld of architect Thanasis Papatheodorou who first presented his proposals for the circuit to the FIA and Ecclestone back in August 2012.

After his proposal was warmly received by Ecclestone and Jean Todt, the Mayor of Keratsini-Drapetsona, Loukas Tzanis, told Espresso: "We are very optimistic and hopeful that all will end well. Building a F1 race track in our region is the best thing that could happen, since it would become a means of development for all of the country."

Like Valencia (ugh!), Piraeus, site of the proposed circuit, is a port city, with a history dating back to ancient Greece. It is the largest passenger port in Europe and the third largest in the world. In both 1896 and 2004 it hosted events as part of the Summer Olympics.

"Greece has experienced, and still is in the middle of, a massive crisis, but is now on the verge of stabilization and turning things around very slowly," journalist Dimitris Papadopoulos told CNN. "Priorities must be set on where government funding will go and I'm pretty sure that an F1 race is not on the priority list on that level.

"We should, however, point out that private initiatives are looking at the possibility of funding the construction of a street circuit in the area of Drapetsona and the hosting of a race. The plans have been laid, financial studies have been completed, and the project has been presented to interested parties for financing. The Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras sent a letter to the mayor of Drapetsona, by which he provided his full support to this attempt and that is based on private funding."

"The Prime Minister himself has supported fully the initiative for organizing F1 races and is looking forward to the instruction from the relevant international federations to realize the Dielpis Formula 1 project," said achitect Papatheodorou.

"The greatest benefit for our country would be giving to the world the opportunity to see the most historical port of the Mediterranean sea," he added. "And our experience at organizing big events, such as the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, is a big credential for us."

Meanwhile, the wise man in Prince's Gate eagerly anticipates the arrival of Greeks bearing gifts.

Chris Balfe

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by gturner38, 01/09/2014 0:52

"I wouldn't be 100% certain Bernie is expecting this race to go off. Why would he have to trademark "Mediterranean Grand Prix" when there is no "Grand Prix of Greece?" I could just as easily see talks for a return to Imola or a race at Mugello.

Looking at that layout, it looks like it could be fun to drive, but really only has one good passing zone and one marginal one."

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2. Posted by Kkiirmki, 27/08/2014 21:33

"I'm with RRZX-14, the track does look interesting, looks like a mashup of Suzuka and Monaco."

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3. Posted by RRZX-14, 27/08/2014 21:10

"Probably won't happen, but at least the track looks interesting. Nice, long nearly flat-out section from T11-T15 with a tunnel. One hell of a DRS zone. :)"

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4. Posted by my tyres are going off, 27/08/2014 19:42

"Not gonna happen and I've already wasted enough time on this one."

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5. Posted by Spindoctor, 27/08/2014 15:07

"You gotta admire his sense of humour.... I'm assuming that like his recent selective memory losses, his paying of bribes and his assertions of "business as usual" that this is part of the elaborate post-modern installation which is "Bernie Ecclestone"."

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6. Posted by nikopan, 27/08/2014 11:50

"It won't happen. Bernie is following the money. To us fans, F1 is a sporting passion. To Bernie, well let just say, money talks and ........ walks."

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7. Posted by White Lightning, 27/08/2014 10:12

"Would that be the bankrupt Greece? The Greece with youth unemployment at 53%? The Greece that became a black hole for German money Greece?

Azerbaijan, Russia, Greece... F1 is eating itself."

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