Chumpol catches F1 fever
BANGKOK, 14 March 2012: Tourism and Sports Minister, Chumpol Silpa-archa, says Thailand could meet all the conditions to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix as early as 2014.
Following discussions with relevant parties on the possibility of hosting Formula 1, the tourism minister said that the Thai government would now officially confirm interest to host a race in 2014.
“Also, private companies have shown interest to co-host the event such as Red Bull, PTT Public Company Limited and automobile manufacturers, along with the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau and the ministry’s Sports Authority of Thailand,” the minister confirmed.
Mr Chumpol, who is often critiicised for a lacklustre performance, views the project as a suitable reference point to crown his political career.
On possible circuits, Mr Chumpol said he favoured Rajdamnoen Avenue where Red Bull team driver, Mark Alan Webber, drove a Formula I Car on a demo circuit, 18 December 2010, as part of the celebrations for HM the King’s birthday.
“It will save costs to use a road circuit and we can improve the roads, which will have a spin-off benefit for city motorists after the event,” he said.
The alternative is a custom-built race circuit at Pattaya, but it would require 350 rai of land that would put the budget through the ceiling.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Tourism and Sports spokesperson, Watchara Kannikar, said Mr Chumpol will submit Thailand’s bid to the F1 franchise holder and president, Bernie Ecclestone this month.
Additionally, he will also confirm that Thailand will be host of the Race of Champions, an international motor-sport event featuring some of the world’s best racing drivers, at the National Stadium this November, which will serve as a preparation for future F1 races.
“As host to the F1 race, Singapore saw a strong influx of tourists, so it will benefit Thailand.”
Mr Watchara added: “Initially, the budget was Bt10 billion. However, it is possible that the cost will triple.”
If the bid succeeds, Thailand’s Rajdamnoen Avenue will be the third F1 street circuit following Monaco Grand Pix and Singapore Night Race using a race distance of 3.5 to 5 km per lap.
Although racing on city street requires a lower initial budget, there will be additional costs that could cause opposition. They include the annual closure of roads for set-up, building stadiums annually and noise prevention measures.
The green lobby could pitch in claiming the race glamourises a sport that pollutes, wastes fuel and glamourises the car industry, a higher source of carbon emissions than the airline industry.