Crowds throng Vietnam F1 site for sneak peek

The crowds in Hanoi getting a taste of Formula One racing on Saturday as David Coulthard performs tricks such as "doughnuts" in his Red Bull car during a preview of next year's Vietnam Grand Prix.
The crowds in Hanoi getting a taste of Formula One racing on Saturday as David Coulthard performs tricks such as "doughnuts" in his Red Bull car during a preview of next year's Vietnam Grand Prix.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HANOI • Tens of thousands of spectators turned out in Hanoi on Saturday to watch a demonstration at the site of Formula One's Vietnamese Grand Prix circuit by former F1 racer David Coulthard and fellow British driver Jake Dennis.

"Obviously, it's a great privilege to be here in Vietnam. I believe there were over 50,000 people here, which is amazing. I definitely won't forget it," Dennis told the state-run Vietnam Television channel after the drives outside My Dinh National Stadium.

The demonstration drives in a Red Bull car comprised largely of "doughnuts", when the driver rotates the rear or front of the vehicle around the opposite set of wheels in a continuous circular motion.

"We hope that in one year's time, the grand prix will be a great success," Dennis added of the race which will make its debut next year.

Coulthard also hailed the energy of the crowd, adding: "It was pretty dusty out there but, in fairness to the city, they're building a grand prix track on this site as we speak and it (the crowd) just added to the visual aspect."

The race will be staged from April 2020 on a 5.565km street circuit. It will use new track and roads around Hanoi's My Dinh National Stadium in the city's Tu Liem district.

Construction of the track, which has been designed by the German company Tilke Engineers & Architects, began last month.

Vietnam will be only the third South-east Asian country to host a grand prix, after Malaysia and Singapore and is the first new race announced under Liberty Media's ownership of the sport.

Hanoi authorities had stated that funding for the race will come from the private sector and that there will be no government subsidy.

Property conglomerate Vingroup had signed a 10-year multi-million-dollar deal with F1 last year reported in state media to be costing Vietnam US$60 million (S$81 million) per year.

The sport is not particularly popular in the country, although Vietnamese sports fans follow even minor tournaments involving national teams.

F1 chief Jean Todt last month hailed the grand prix in Hanoi as a great opportunity to open doors for people with "a passion" for motor sport in South-east Asia.

DPA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2019, with the headline 'Crowds throng Vietnam F1 site for sneak peek'. Print Edition | Subscribe