Ostensible answer: To celebrate the Thai king’s 84th birthday.
The more subtle one: To suss out the potential for a race in Thailand.
Well, Webber did race a Red Bull through Bangkok this weekend, as this Red Bull press release notes:
In Thailand this weekend Mark drove the Running Showcar in front of the largest crowd we’ve ever performed before.
Having visited the Thai King on Friday, Webber raced the Showcar down Rajdamnoen Avenue on Saturday in front of more than 150,000 people as part of the celebrations for His Majesty the King’s 84th birthday.
After the runs, Mark took a more leisurely drive along the route waving the Thai flag, acknowledging the Red Bull links with the country.
Also on offer for the spectators were a jazz session to honour the monarch and a parade lead by Mark and Thailand’s top actresses”Aum” Patcharapa Chaichua and “Ploy” Chermarn Boonyasak, followed by a show by Red Bull Drift Team Thailand, led by ‘Kiki’ Sak Nana.
The Showcar was displayed at Bangkok’s Central Chidlom’s Morakot after the day’s action.
You get that opening? “The largest crowd” ever for a Red Bull event? Yeah, precisely.
This event comes as there is some Internet buzz that more races in the east could be possible — although I suppose that the buzz could be coming as a result of Webber’s show, and not vice versa.
But there’s no denying that running a Formula 1 car isn’t what a country that has zero interest in a grand prix would do. Remember those events in Russia? Well check your 2014 calendar.
You also can add to the mix the fact that 51% of Red Bull — the drink company, now, not just the race team or anything — is owned by a Thai business man and his son. They have been partners with Dietrich Mateschitz for almost 30 years. (Red Bull was a Thai drink that DM re-worked a bit.)
So we’ll see where this goes. (How many races can they squeeze onto that calendar, though?)