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Shanghai likely to remain on calendar beyond 2010

NEWS STORY
24/11/2008

Following claims that Shanghai might not renew its contract, opting to turn the 235m Grand Prix circuit into a motor sport 'theme park', organisers say that the original comments were misinterpreted.

Leon Sun of organisers Juss Events has told the Chinese media that recent comments made by Qiu Weichang, the deputy director of the Shanghai sports ministry, were lost in translation.

"I've spoken to Mr Qiu and he never said the Grand Prix was going to leave China," said Sun. "I think it's probably some misunderstanding in translation. I would say it's likely it will stay after 2010. Formula One has only been here for five years. To build a spectator base is not easy, it's a long term operation.

"We think Formula One is a very good product," he continued, "a very good event for Shanghai city so at least from our company's point of view we want to continue promoting and building the event.

"Research shows there are more and more race fans in China," he added, "so I don't think we will say no to the Formula One Grand Prix."

However, Sun did admit that there would be further discussions before the current contract, which ends in 2010, is renewed.

Unable to ignore the swathes of empty grandstand seats (above), indeed, a whole number of grandstands turned into advertising hoardings, not to mention claims of tickets being given away, Sun claimed that 80,000 spectators turned up for the race and that some of those attending had received their tickets as a result of a "trade off" with business partners.

"We consider those sales because you move your costs down and you have more promotional materials," he said.

Sun is also confident that the decision to move the race to April in 2009 will prove positive. "In the first half of the year, there are not many international events in Shanghai, the Autumn is very busy," he said. "The first year will always be tough when you change an event but in the long-term view, I think it's a good move."

With France and Canada already in the bin, so to speak, and the axe hanging over both the British and German events, the news that Shanghai might not renew its contract will have come as a major blow to the powers that be.

Bernie Ecclestone is constantly telling us of the countries queuing up to get on the calendar, however, most of them appear to be dragging their feet, to put it mildly. The withdrawal of Shanghai might be enough to convince some of the growing economies that perhaps the F1 dream isn't all its cracked up to be. Especially in such difficult economic times.

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