Hanoi - The
first Hanoi Grand Prix will kick off a "long-term partnership", Formula
One boss Chase Carey said on Wednesday as he confirmed plans to expand
motorsport's premier championship in Asia.
Vietnam announced last week it will stage the race in its communist
capital from April 2020, becoming only the third Southeast Asian nation
to host the Formula One after Malaysia and Singapore.
"We're very proud to be announcing this race," Carey told reporters in Hanoi as details of the event were unveiled.
Carey said the decision to host the race in Hanoi was part of Formula
One's strategy to move into markets where it hopes to groom a new
generation of fans - and boost revenues.
"We plan for this to be a long-term agreement, and we intend for this to be a long-term partnership," Carey said.
"The race is also an important part of our broader strategy to grow
our sport in Asia, and clearly Vietnam is a driving force for the growth
in Asia," he added.
Hanoi municipal government chairman Nguyen Duc Chung said a 10-year
contract for the day race had been signed with Formula One, with an
opportunity to discuss extensions from year eight.
The 5.6 kilometre (3.5 mile) track will include existing roads and
portions that have yet to be built, according to a press release from
the Hanoi Municipal People's Committee.
The race will be held near the national stadium, after authorities
initially considered staging it by Hoan Kiem lake near Hanoi's chaotic
Those plans were scrapped because of high costs, officials said earlier this year.
Vietnamese media said race rights alone - to be paid to Liberty
Media, Formula One's new owner - could come with a $60 million price
Organisers said VinGroup, the
country's largest private company, had set up a subsidiary called Grand
Prix Vietnam that will pay for the hosting fee, though they did not
confirm the precise amount.
The long-anticipated announcement comes as Liberty Media, which took
over the Formula One franchise last year for $8 billion, tries to tap
into new markets - especially in fast-growing Asia.
But they may face some bumps in the road in Vietnam, a football-mad
country where motorsports don't yet have a mainstream following.
Organisers are hoping to tap into the mushrooming middle class in
Vietnam, one of Asia's fastest growing economies, and win hearts among
wealthier sports fans that traditionally make up F1's fan base.
Formula One races are costly affairs requiring deep pockets from host countries.
Malaysia pulled out of the loss-making race last year after hosting
it for nearly two decades, while India and South Korea both dropped off
the circuit in 2013, citing financial strains.
But in the right market, the glamorous sport can rake in billions
from advertisers, ticket sales, broadcasting rights and branded