Bangkok Will Join F1 Calendar With Night Grand Prix In '15
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "revealed that the '15 Grand Prix calendar will feature a night race on the streets of Bangkok," Thailand, Christian Sylt wrote in the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Ecclestone said that "the location has now been chosen, and specified that the race would come a year later." Ecclestone said, "They say 2014, and I say 2015. It is serious and it is good." The annual fee for hosting an F1 race is $27M, 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 Thai brewer Singha and energy drink maker Red Bull. 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 '13 with Russia and New Jersey, U.S. set to join in '14. The number of races "is restricted to 20 by the Concorde Agreement." The teams "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" (WSJ, 12/18).
MAYBE MOROCCO? Sylt also revealed in PIT PASS that Ecclestone "has spoken to the King of Morocco about hosting a grand prix in the country though he stresses that this is unlikely to take place." The last Moroccan Grand Prix was held in '58 near Casablanca." A senior F1 sponsorship agent said, "There is a huge amount of investment in Marrakech. Some locals said it's even overcrowded and prices are falling again." He added: "Great location. But these kinds of money are only in the King's coffers, and I think he would promote Casablanca or similar cities that need a new drive." The King of Morocco "has reportedly set a target of doubling the number of tourists visiting the country to 20 million by '20, and F1 would help give it a boost." Ecclestone agrees but said that "he does not think the market is right for F1." Ecclestone said, "I met the King of Morocco a couple of years ago and talked about F1, but what reason would it be good for us? The manufacturers are not selling anything there. How many people would come?" (PIT PASS, 12/15).