Chinese Grand Prix in doubt for 2011
April 13, 2010
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Just a few days after concerns were expressed about the forthcoming Korean Grand Prix, there are now worries concerning the future of the Chinese Grand Prix.
When the Shanghai circuit began in F1 in 2004, the orgainsers signed a 7-year contract, which expires next year. The track cost a total of $350m, boasts a capacity of 200,000 and has one of the largest structures in Formula 1. But, apart from the contract, there are problems.
While the capacity for spectators is massive, there have been large struggles to get people to attend. Many grandstands lie completely empty on race day every year. It is so bad that the Turn 12 and 13 grandstand has been turned into a giant advertising board. The reason why not many tickets are bought is because of the methods that tickets are obtained.
The circuit gives out huge amounts of tickets for free to corporate guests and companies. If they don’t want them (a lot of them don’t), they sell them off for a much lower rate than the actual official price for tickets. This means that, no matter how many people attend, very little sales revenue is made at all.
Because of a lack of finance, it must be difficult for the organisers to pay Bernie Ecclestone for their next contract. While the Bahrain circuit (who also joined in 2004), just had their contract extended to until 2013, there have been no extensions for the Chinese circuit so far.
It is possible for the Chinese government to step in and save the Grand Prix, but I’m not sure that they will. While the Grand Prix is good for bringing in a few corporate sponsors in China, there is less interest from outside the country. And, for the amount of money they would have to pour in, they could spend their money much better. Anyways, I don’t like the Shanghai circuit, so I wouldn’t be sad to see it go.