SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) – Plans for a Vietnamese Grand Prix in 2020 look feasible, according to Formula One race director Charlie Whiting who visited the proposed site in Hanoi last week.
Whiting told reporters at Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix that the location for a street circuit had been identified, to the west of the capital and some 12km from the city centre, even if building work had yet to start.
“It’s in the advanced stages of design,” said the Briton, who flew to Vietnam between races on successive weekends in Russia and Japan.
“As far as I’m aware, they’re aiming for a 2020 grand prix, which shouldn’t be a problem based on previous experience.”
Formula One management has expressed strong interest in a race in Vietnam, with Hanoi seen as the sort of ‘destination city’ the sport is looking for. [nL3N1T64GG]
No signing has been confirmed, however, even if there has been plenty of speculation that a deal is done.
Vietnam would be the first new race introduced by commercial rights holders Liberty Media, who took control in January last year and ousted former supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
The Vietnamese government said at the end of August that it supported the idea of staging a Formula One race on the streets of Hanoi. [nL8N1VM419]
The country is a growing market for sponsors such as brewer Heineken and would be a fifth Asian race on the calendar, making up for the departure of Malaysia.
Whiting said the proposed layout mainly used existing streets, with one as-yet unbuilt section.
“It’s an open site where the pit building’s going to be built,” he said.
“Part of the track will be built there which doesn’t exist at the moment. But it will become a road, I understand, after that.”
(Reporting by Abhishek Takle, writing by Alan Baldwin, editing by Greg Stutchbury)