Malaysia got it! Singapore got it! And finally Bangkok, Thailand, gets F1 Racing!

Formula One 2010 Rd.3 Malaysian GP: Mark Webbe...

Formula One 2010 Rd.3 Malaysian GP: Mark Webber (Red Bull) during Friday 1st Free Practice session. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some ten years ago, Malaysia began planning for an ultra modern automotive race track. At that time, the plan was an outrage. ASEAN economies, just went through a financial crisis, and such a race track, costing millions, seems like an expensive toy for an ASEAN country to have.

But Malaysia pushed forward, arguing, that it would help add to the symbol of Malaysia, being a global class manufacturer of automobiles. And F1, eventually went to Malaysia, on a regular schedule.

Then it was Singapore turn with F1 racing, and Singapore went for night racing, as part of the city’s state efforts to transform the reputation, that Singapore is a boring island country, and injected excitement into the city’s night life.

As all of that occurred, Thailand billionaire co-owner of Red Bull, went fielding an F1 team, where team won the first place, globally in F1 racing.

So a few years back, F1 came to Thailand, with a Red Bull team on a demonstration run around the Bangkok old town center area of Grand Palace and Democracy Monument. Estimate said about 100,000 people showed up to watch.

After that, Thailand have been in a hunt to bring F1 racing to Thailand.

  • The following is from the Wall Street Journal:

F1 Adds Bangkok Race to 2015 Schedule

Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone revealed that the 2015 Grand Prix calendar will feature a night race on the streets of Bangkok.

Speculation about a Formula One race in Thailand had grown since championship-winner Red Bull Racing carried out a demonstration run through the streets of the nation’s capital in December 2010.

Then in October, Kanokphand Chulakasem, governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand, seemed to confirm the rumors by saying the country would host a race in 2014. He added at the time that he was “working closely with F1 officials to look for the best site.”

Ecclestone said that the location has now been chosen, and specified that the race would come a year later.

“They say 2014 and I say 2015. It is serious and it is good,” he added.

The annual fee for hosting an F1 race is $27 million and it is understood that the government of Thailand would foot around 60% of the bill. The rest is set to come from local companies such as the Thai brewer Singha and from Red Bull, the energy-drink maker.

Ecclestone said that the race is backed by Chalerm Yoovidhya, the fourth-richest man in Thailand through his 51% stake in Red Bull.

The addition of this Grand Prix increases pressure on the sport’s crowded calendar. There are already 20 races slated for 2013 with Russia and New Jersey set to join in 2014. The number of races is restricted to 20 by the Concorde Agreement, the contract that commits F1’s 11 teams to race. They object to adding more races due to increased transport costs and the added time staff would have to spend on the road.

Under the agreement, only a consensus from the teams can cause the schedule to expand beyond 20 races or if over 60% of them are outside the sport’s traditional markets of Europe, the U.S. or Canada.

The calendar is currently evenly split with 10 races held in these three regions and 10 outside. So unless the teams agree to increase the limit on the number of races, the introduction of Thailand is likely to come at the expense of a race from the sport’s historic heartland.

—Christian Sylt

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