Hanoi Grand Prix to be­gin in 2020

For­mula One aims at ‘long-term part­ner­ship’ in Viet­nam

Global Times US Edition - - SPORTS -

The first Hanoi Grand Prix will kick off a “long-term part­ner­ship,” For­mula One boss Chase Carey said Wed­nes­day as he con­firmed plans to ex­pand mo­tor­sport’s premier cham­pi­onship in Asia.

Viet­nam an­nounced last week it will stage the race in its cap­i­tal from April 2020, be­com­ing only the third South­east Asian na­tion to host the For­mula One af­ter Malaysia and Sin­ga­pore.

“We’re very proud to be an­nounc­ing this race,” Carey told re­porters in Hanoi as de­tails of the event were un­veiled.

Carey said the de­ci­sion to host the race in Hanoi was part of For­mula One’s strat­egy to move into mar­kets where it hopes to groom a new gen­er­a­tion of fans – and boost rev­enues.

“We plan for this to be a long-term agree­ment, and we in­tend for this to be a long-term part­ner­ship,” Carey said.

“The race is also an im­por­tant part of our broader strat­egy to grow our sport in Asia, and clearly Viet­nam is a driv­ing force for the growth in Asia.”

Hanoi mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment chair­man Nguyen Duc Chung said a 10-year con­tract for the day race had been signed with For­mula One, with an op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss ex­ten­sions from year eight.

The 5.6-kilome­ter track will in­clude ex­ist­ing roads and por­tions that have yet to be built, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease from the Hanoi Mu­nic­i­pal Peo­ple’s Com­mit­tee.

The race will be held near the na­tional sta­dium, af­ter au­thor­i­ties ini­tially con­sid­ered stag­ing it by Hoan Kiem Lake near Hanoi’s chaotic Old Quar­ter.

Those plans were scrapped be­cause of high costs, of­fi­cials said ear­lier this year.

Viet­namese me­dia said race rights alone – to be paid to Lib­erty Me­dia, For­mula One’s new owner – could come with a $60 mil­lion price tag.

Or­ga­niz­ers said VinGroup, the coun­try’s largest pri­vate com­pany, had set up a sub­sidiary called Grand Prix Viet­nam that will pay for the host­ing fee, although they did not con­firm the pre­cise amount.

The long-an­tic­i­pated an­nounce­ment comes as Lib­erty Me­dia, which took over the For­mula One fran­chise last year for $8 bil­lion, tries to tap into new mar­kets – es­pe­cially in fast-grow­ing Asia.

But they may face some bumps in the road in Viet­nam, a soc­cer-mad coun­try where mo­tor­sports don’t yet have a main­stream fol­low­ing.

Or­ga­niz­ers are hop­ing to tap into the mush­room­ing mid­dle class in Viet­nam, one of Asia’s fastest-grow­ing economies, and win hearts among wealth­ier sports fans that tra­di­tion­ally make up For­mula One’s fan base.

For­mula One races are costly af­fairs re­quir­ing deep pock­ets from host coun­tries.

Malaysia pulled out of the loss-mak­ing race last year af­ter host­ing it for nearly two decades, while In­dia and South Korea both dropped off the cir­cuit in 2013, cit­ing fi­nan­cial strains.

But in the right mar­ket, the glam­orous sport can rake in bil­lions from ad­ver­tis­ers, ticket sales, broad­cast­ing rights and branded mer­chan­dise.

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