Road race on cards as F1 eyes second China GP

SHANGHAI • Formula One is in talks with six cities in China this week about holding a second grand prix in the country, a senior F1 official told Agence France-Presse, with a Beijing road race said to have been floated.

It would complement the existing one at the US$450 million (S$609 million) Shanghai International Circuit.

No country currently has two Formula One races, although F1 officials are negotiating for a second grand prix in the United States.

F1's landmark 1,000th race took place in Shanghai last Sunday, underlining China's growing role as the sport's US-based owner looks to Asia.

A source with knowledge of the matter said that a race on the streets of the Chinese capital Beijing has been raised as one idea.

Sean Bratches, F1's managing director of commercial operations, did not confirm or deny the road-race plan for Beijing when approached by AFP.

"In terms of interest, we would be highly interested in a street race," he said.

"It would be a nice juxtaposition to the purpose-built, extraordinary facility that we have here (in Shanghai). Our intent is to bring our show to the people."

Bratches said F1 chiefs will this week embark on a visit to six potential host cities 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."

Liberty Media, which took over F1 in early 2017 in a multi-billion-dollar deal, wants to have more street races, believing that is the best way to attract new fans.

Next year, the bustling Vietnamese capital Hanoi will host an F1 road race, while last Saturday, crowds watched China's Zhou Guanyu drive an F1 car in central Shanghai.

"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," Bratches added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2019, with the headline 'Road race on cards as F1 eyes second China GP'. Print Edition | Subscribe