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The proposed F1 circuit in Hanoi (image: Formula1.com)

F1 grand prix in Hanoi – a good thing?

Staging a race in the Vietnamese city for the first time represents the first expansion of F1 under its new ownership.

Vietnam will host a Formula 1 grand prix for the first time in April 2020. But question marks are being raised over expanding into countries with little racing tradition.

The event is to be added to the Formula One calendar as the sport’s new owners “develop new destination cities to broaden F1’s appeal”.

The aim is also to show a “firm commitment to Asia”, where the event is already established in Singapore, China and Japan.

It is the first new race to be announced under the ownership of Liberty Media, which bought the F1 organization for $4.6 billion in January 2017.

The Hanoi promoter Vingroup has signed a deal to host the race over several years, billed as “a thrilling street race” in the city around a three-pronged 5.6-kilometre track in the heart of the city.

“We are really looking forward to seeing Formula One cars speeding around the streets of this fantastic city from 2020,” enthused F1’s chairman and chief executive Chase Carey.

“Since we became involved in this sport in 2017, we have talked about developing new destination cities to broaden the appeal of Formula 1 and the Vietnamese Grand Prix is a realisation of that ambition.”

Attracting tourism
Nguyen Duc Chung, chairman of the City of Hanoi, said: “[The deal with F1] is a demonstration of Vietnam’s ability to host events on a global scale and attract tourism to the country. It provides an opportunity for inward investment to Vietnam and importantly to bring the exciting wheel-to-wheel racing of Formula 1 to the people of Vietnam.”

On top of bringing benefits such as job creation, infrastructure upgrades and potentially more international events to Vietnam, it also provides an opportunity to “proclaim the first Vietnamese car manufacturer, VinFast, to millions of audiences around the world,” Nguyen Viet Quang, Vingroup’s vice chairman and chief executive, said.

Racing tradition?
However, world champion Lewis Hamilton has questioned holding races in new countries, telling the BBC he would prefer to see more stops in countries with a genuine racing tradition.

“On the racing side, I don’t know how important it is to go to new countries as such,” he said. “If you had the Silverstone Grand Prix and a London Grand Prix, it would be pretty cool.”

European races in England, Germany and Italy have recently come under threat, while France dropped off the circuit for 10 years before returning this season, AFP reports. Copenhagen, meanwhile, has been competing with other cities to host the event.

Hamilton contrasted the “real racing history” in England, Germany, Italy and also the US with countries like India, South Korea and Vietnam. “We had a grand prix in Turkey and hardly anyone came. Cool track, cool weekend but poor audience.”

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