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SBD Global/November 22, 2012/Finance

South Korean F1 Race Loses $36.4M In '12, Its Third Consecutive Loss Since '10

The Korean F1 Grand Prix "racked up substantial operating losses" in October, "the third year running it has finished in the red," potentially threatening its place on F1's calendar, according to Alastair Himmer of REUTERS. Race organizers revealed that the South Korea race, first run in '10, "returned operating losses of 39.4B won ($36.4M)." Race organizers said, "There are many concerns regarding the operating loss, the loss for a third straight year is only a short-term effect. In the long-term, the F1 event will bring more benefits to the country. It will not only pave the way for South Korean car industries in the future but also help foster new industries." The Yeongam circuit, 400km south of Seoul, "has an initial contract of seven years, with a five-year option that could keep the race there until '21." However, it "has been plagued by problems, even before opening in '10, when construction of the circuit was only just finished in time for its maiden race." South Korean organizers "have expressed dissatisfaction at the terms of their contract with F1, particularly over the cost of race-sanctioning fees." However, their complaints "have fallen on deaf ears" with F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone (REUTERS, 11/21).

SLOW TICKET SALES: The SID reported the race in Yeongam suffers from slow ticket sales and "lack of interest" from South Koreans. In '10 the race "had a loss of about $67M, while the '11 edition led to an operating loss of about $56M" (SID, 11/21). South Jeolla province council member Seo Dong-wook said, "Just because the amount of loss was cut from 70B won to 40B won, I am not sure we can call this year's race a success. We will need to take some fundamental steps to change it" (YONHAP, 11/21).
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