I recall reading a story about a possible Formula 1 race in Vietnam about a year ago when Christian Sylt published a news article suggesting that the new owners were closing in on a deal that former CEO, Bernie Ecclestone, passed on. The reason I recall that is because Bernie is a shrewd business guy and if there was a compelling reason, he would have inked a deal with Hanoi but he didn’t.
As I read the article a year ago, I was intrigued by the possible Vietnam Grand Prix because of Liberty Media’s stated goal of focusing on the US and Europe for its future F1 ambitions and stability. Yet it would seem, with Silverstone in the air, Miami a bust and the German Grand Prix wobbly, that Liberty is keen to ink a deal and state its firm commitment to the Asia region with Singapore, China, Japan and now Vietnam on the calendar in 2020.
Chase Carey, Chairman and Chief Executive, Formula 1 said:
“We are delighted to announce that Hanoi will host a Formula 1 Grand Prix. Since we became involved in this sport in 2017, we have talked about developing new destination cities to broaden the appeal of Formula 1 and the Vietnamese Grand Prix is a realization of that ambition. We are thrilled to be here in Hanoi, one of the most exciting cities in the world right now with such a rich history and an incredible future ahead of it. This is the perfect formula for Grand Prix racing and I look forward to this becoming a real highlight of the F1 calendar.
“Our Motosport team, working in collaboration with the City of Hanoi and promoter Vingroup, has worked to enable a circuit that will not only test the drivers but also ensure that our fans enjoy the racing spectacle. We are really looking forward to seeing Formula 1 cars speeding around the streets of this fantastic city from 2020.”
The Hanoi Feasibility Group provided suggestions of potential locations, track layouts and associated CAD data to F1’s Motorsports team, who subsequently built a simulation model of the circuit to carry out lap simulation analysis.
The final design will be the culmination of a collaboration between F1’s Motorsports team, circuit design company Tilke, the City of Hanoi authorities and the race promoter, with governing body the FIA also part of the process.
The circuit is taking design cues from other iconic tracks on the F1 calendar much the same as the Circuit of the Americas did. You can see a deeper look at the circuit here.
I haven’t seen recent attendance numbers for the Chinese Grand Prix lately, but I know F1 has had a challenging time getting interest in the races it attempted in Korea, India and Malaysia. Japan is a different event and a country with a strong motorsport history and passion. It is difficult to equate their interest level with China or Vietnam. I am curious what level of motorsport interest the nation of Vietnam has and Hanoi residents in particular.
Does it make sense to create a race in Hanoi? The yearly sanctioning fee from the Vingroup, which one could assume is in the region of $15-25 million per year (if history is anything to go on) is a nice revenue stream. Given F1’s new appetite for increased marketing spend which begets reduced prize money, the series may be left to take on new races in APAC after criticizing former owners, CVC Capital, for doing the same.
Sadly, adding another race in the United States appears to be something that isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future and if the calendar is expanded to make room for Vietnam, how much more room would it have for a second race in the US? How about another race in Europe and what will Liberty do with Silverstone and the British GP? Well, at least we’ll have yet another street circuit race and in Vietnam no less.
While I was hoping for a second USGP or possibly a new European GP at a re-vamped Zandvoort, I guess street circuits are all the rage and Vietnam is overflowing with F1 fans. Congratulations to F1 for the new revenue and to the teams who will recapture some of the lost prize money due to increased overhead in the F1 business model and congratulations to Vietnam for hosting a brand new F1 race.