Hanoi Kicks Off Construction Of Formula One Race Track
Mar 25, 2019

Vietnam on Wednesday on March 20 started construction of a race circuit in the capital Hanoi where the Southeast Asian city will host its first Formula One race presumably in April next year.

Formula One chief Jean Todt hailed the inaugural Vietnamese Grand Prix in Hanoi as “a great opportunity to open doors for people with a passion for motorsport in Southeast Asia.”

“This major event will give to Vietnam – and particularly its capital – an international exposure,” Todt said at a ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the circuit.

He added that he hoped Vietnamese fans seeing the wheel-to-wheel battle on the streets of Hanoi live would lead to “an explosion of in interest in racing of all kinds” in Vietnam and would breed a new generation of Vietnamese drivers.

The 5.565-kilometer circuit in the west of Hanoi is scheduled to be completed by March next year, Grand Prix cooperation partner Vingroup, the country’s largest private conglomerate, said in a statement. It will incorporate existing and yet-to-be-built roads in the My Dinh area of Hanoi near the national sports stadium, about 13 kilometers from the city center. Organisers said they decided against holding the race in Hanoi’s historical Old Quarter because of logistical challenges and steep costs.

Hanoi signed a ten-year deal with Formula One to host the race which will cost $60 million per year to stage. Authorities said they will not dip into government coffers to pay for the event but instead have secured “full financial backing” from VinGroup.

The Vietnamese Grand Prix will become one of 22 races on Formula One’s global calendar next year and the fourth street race. It will also be the fifth Grand Prix in Asia (ex-Middle East) besides races in Shanghai, Baku, Suzuka (Japan) and Singapore, which hosts a night race each September. Malaysia, where Formula One races where held since 1999, pulled out of the circus in 2017.

Critics, however, pointed out that the Hanoi Grand Prix is a huge gamble. Motor racing is a virtually unknown sport in Vietnam, while most of the 20 current Formula One drivers are European, and none hail from Asia. This, together with high ticket prices, could make the race a hard sell for the local population.

Photo by Tim Carey on Unsplash