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A second Grand Prix for China?

NEWS STORY
16/04/2019

At a time five of the current Grands Prix - among them two of the most iconic circuits in the sport's history - are in the final year of their contracts, their futures in serious jeopardy as the relevant parties remain unable to agree an acceptable financial deal, it has been revealed that F1 is in talks to host a second race in China, a street race in Beijing.

"In terms of interest, we would be highly interested in a street race," F1 commercial boss, Sean Bratches told AFP.

"It would be a nice juxtaposition to the purpose-built, extraordinary facility that we have here," he added, referring to the Shanghai International Circuit which on Sunday hosted the 1,000th race in the sport's history. "Our intent is to bring our show to the people."

Of course, whether "the people" actually want "the show" is another matter entirely.

From the outset the Shanghai event has failed to attract the interest of the locals, with several of the original grandstands either removed or covered in order not to reveals the swathes of empty seats.

Subsequently, in an attempt to boost attendance, mainly for the benefit of the TV cameras, children and students were bussed in for local schools and colleges to give the appearance of interest.

According to Bratches, F1 is in talks with six local governments in China.

"There's meetings set up in each with government officials to talk about identifying a second city to host a grand prix," he said. "We think there's an opportunity to grow from that perspective."

Despite F1's desire to expand in America, owner Liberty Media's own backyard, with the Miami event looking increasingly unlikely, the only new addition to the sport's calendar since it bought it is Vietnam, and while the company mantra is all about "the fans", "history" and "passion" it is unclear - other than money - what a second Chinese race will bring to the sport.

"If you want to elevate the brand to the casual fan and the non-fan to move them up the ladder to become avids, you're going to need to... demonstrate and show to them what this sport is about," said Bratches.

Despite the hype surrounding Sunday's race, the sport did little to actually celebrate the occasion, while the race itself proved to be pretty much a damp squib.

Whatever one might think, at a time we risk losing Monza and Silverstone, not to mention the Spanish, German and Mexican events, quite how existing fans will welcome a second Chinese race remains to be seen.

As for Vietnam, there is talk doing the rounds that the deal is for considerably less than originally thought, indeed, talk that the hosting fee agreed is one of the lowest on the calendar… we're talking single figures.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by TokyoAussie, 17/04/2019 4:20

"There used to be 7 temporary stands between the end of the main stand and the end of the first corner.
3 were for paying spectators, and the other 4 for filler spectators.
They got rid of the 4 empty stands at one point, and now even the 3 stands for paying customers have reverted to "hill". Still, there have been worse in terms of crowds (not) showing up (Korea, Turkey,...)."

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2. Posted by imejl99, 16/04/2019 15:05

"I ceased reading at "a street race""

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3. Posted by Anthony, 16/04/2019 13:40

"Ahh... not more street races...."

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4. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 16/04/2019 11:26

"Is the low hosting fee for Vietnam the first sign of panic, if true will at least give the 5 out of contract some leverage."

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5. Posted by vins0n, 16/04/2019 10:52

"'the sport did little to actually celebrate the occasion' - what?! There were stickers everywhere and they did a photo. Apparently Fangio was a thing too. What more could you want from the 'Pinnacle Of Motorsport'?"

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6. Posted by Fambank, 16/04/2019 8:19

"Sigh..."

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