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F1 would "love" a second race in China

NEWS STORY
26/01/2019

In the weeks and months following Liberty Media's purchase of Formula One, the sport's new bosses went out of their way to make clear that they were going to take a totally different approach to the previous owners.

Alongside a determined effort to win over the media, F1 executives made a concerted effort to work the words "fan" and "passion" into almost every sentence they uttered.

Naturally, being an American company, the sport's new owners wanted to expand it in their own back yard, citing three or four US cities they were targeting as possible hosts for Grands Prix.

Two years down the line and with Miami looking highly doubtful, and no other US cities looking even remotely likely, the only new addition to the calendar is Vietnam, while the sport has also submitted trademarks for events in Finland and the Philippines.

Speaking in Beijing, the sport's head of global sponsorship and commercial partnerships, Murray Barnett, has admitted that F1 targeting a second race in China, even though the existing event in Shanghai has never caught the imagination of the locals.

"We would love to have a second race here," said Barnett. "Probably not in the short-term, given how congested the schedule is already. But we'd certainly love to figure out a way to have another grand prix here."

Referring to the apathy surrounding the existing event, he said: "We're looking at a number of different things to try to generate more interest on a local basis. We can't just be here for the three days of the grand prix. We need to have a year-round presence here and be much more locally relevant in order to really establish a big fan-base here."

With the global sponsorship and commercial partnerships department of which he is head seemingly having done a fairly dismal job thus far - F1’s global research director Matt Roberts recently admitting on Reddit that "there should be more sponsors when you benchmark us to other sports. We hope with all the investment and the change in management, this will help encourage advertisers back to the sport", not to mention Chase Carey's admission that "the perception was just there are sponsors waiting... They were lined up out there and as soon as we had somebody to go call on them, they were just going to sign up. The world’s not that simple" - it is understandable that the sport is now looking at long-term race deals to boost the coffers, and Barnett believes that one way to grab local attention would be a Chinese driver on the grid.

Step forward Guanyu Zhou, a former member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, who this week was announced as a member of Renault's junior programme ahead of his F2 debut.

"We'd love to see him in F1," said Barnett. "Ultimately, that's down to the teams, but I think even they recognise what a fantastic opportunity China is. You never know, we might see him in F1 very soon."

Intriguingly, as F1 heads to Vietnam, and possibly the Philippines, Barnett insists the sport has learned from previous mistakes such as Korea and India.

"We've learned what we did wrong in those races," he said. "We're making sure we don't make the same mistakes again. Both of those races only had short-term deals, and we certainly believe in investing for the long-term."

Fact is, when Bernie Ecclestone rejected Vietnam's request for a Grand Prix, the money on the table was significantly more than that subsequently accepted by Liberty.

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1. Posted by NVexplorer, 28/01/2019 21:10

"Liberty is simply chasing the bucks, and to hell with the sport. And I thought Bernie and Max were horrible!"

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2. Posted by imejl99, 28/01/2019 8:08

""We've learned what we did wrong in those races," he said. "We're making sure we don't make the same mistakes again."

Highly unlikely
"

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3. Posted by Canuck, 27/01/2019 12:18

"Why? most of the stand are empty or given away to make it look half full."

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