Formula 1 chief Chase Carey said next year’s inaugural race in Hanoi will be “uniquely exciting” thanks to a street track he hopes will help make the event a global spectacle.
Carey was speaking Monday after inspecting initial work on the 5.6 kilometre (3.5 mile) track that will combine existing roads with newly-built routes in the Vietnamese capital, which is hosting its first F1 race from April 2020.
“We think this track can really be a special race that provides some uniquely exciting racing and competition,” he told reporters.
“It’s the combination of a city race — we’re in the city centre — a street race which always has some special elements to it, and a track that I think we’ve really had the opportunity to work (on) from day one,” said Carey.
The course has been designed “in a way that we think can deliver some special racing for fans,” he added.
The track is around Hanoi’s My Dinh stadium, about 13 kilometres from the city centre after it was deemed too expensive to hold the race in the city’s famed Old Quarter.
Carey compared plans for the Hanoi track to Britain’s Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, which he called “historic” sites.
Carey said he was happy with Hanoi’s pre-race progress so far but warned organisers to keep at it.
“There’s a lot to get done, so the right thing is to continue to worry, not to take things for granted.”
Formula One announced last year it would host its first ever race in Vietnam as it seeks to gain a foothold in Asia, where the franchise has a patchy track record.
The Marina Bay Sands street track night race in Singapore remains F1’s crown jewel in Asia, with the city state’s Grand Prix drawing 263,000 fans last year.
But Malaysia, South Korea and India have all pulled the plug on hosting races in recent years after hemorrhaging money.
Vietnam — where racing is a marginal sport — is hoping to avoid those pitfalls. It has not said how much it will cost to host the event, but has vowed not to dip into government coffers to fund it.
Instead the country’s largest privately-owned conglomerate VinGroup is the main financial backer.
Carey hopes Vietnam will adopt a winning formula to ensure it doesn’t go the way of past flops, “It’s got to have all the elements that creates the race at the centre, creates that excitement, and that energy and that breadth of activities that really enables it to be the spectacle we want it to be.”