FORMULA ONE GP
Shanghai: Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone Monday signed the formal deal with Shanghai for China’s largest and fastest growing city host Grand Prix races for the first time from 2004 to 2010.
Ecclestone said Shanghai would host the Chinese Grand Prix on the city’s two billion yuan ($ 240 million) German-designed race track, which is planned for completion in 2004.
The deal is a victory for China, which has been trying to join the European-dominated Formula One club for more than a decade and was up against countries, such as Turkey, who also are building tracks with an eye to hosting Formula One races.
The Formula One Administration, in turn, is hoping the Chinese Grand Prix will bring more fans to the sport — which depends heavily on advertising — by tapping the country’s population of 1.3 billion. Shanghai alone is home to 16 million.
“We’ve had many, many offers for us to hold Formula One racing in different parts of China and I’m very, very pleased that we decided to wait for Shanghai,” Ecclestone said after signing the deal in a ceremony with Mayor Chen Liangyu. “We hope that coming to China will bring enthusiasm for motor sport,” he said.
Ecclestone said he would give more details on the project at a briefing Tuesday. The design by Hermann Tilke — a renowned Formula One circuit architect who was also responsible for a new track in Malaysia, the sport’s latest newcomer — was key to its success, officials from the company building it said at Monday’s ceremony.
China spent more than nine years developing a circuit in the southern city of Zhuhai and was scheduled to join the F1 calendar in 1998, but the track failed to meet international standards.
“We know we lack experience and we look forward to your advice on how to host the event,” Chen told Ecclestone in a brief meeting before the deal was signed.