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Jeonnam Could Host Formula 1 Dream Race

Posted April. 06, 2007 08:01,   


Will it be possible for Korea to hold a Formula One (F1) Grand Prix Series event that has more than 3.4 million spectators who watch the competition in person, and 50 billion viewers who watch on television yearly?

At the 2007 F1 opening ceremony held at the Albert Park race track in Melbourne, Australia, on March 18, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) came in first and has risen as F1’s new star. Starting on April 7, the second Grand Prix of this season will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Sepang), and F1 symbols, white and black-checkered flags, decorate the streets. There are many auto race specials to be found for all the tourists who have come to watch the F1 event.

Preparations are underway for Korea to host the F1 Grand Prix, the world’s most prestigious racing festival. On October 2 last year, Jeonnam Province Governor Park Joon-young (61), Formula One Management (FOM) President Bernie Ecclestone (77, England), and Korea Auto Valley Operations (KAVO) President Jeong Yeong-jo (47) met together for an “F1 Korea Signing Ceremony” at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul.

The plan is for Jeonnam Province to build an F1 racecourse in Yeongam, and over a period of seven years, starting from 2010 until 2016, host the world’s top auto race, the F1 Grand Prix. If the F1 race is held in Korea, it will be the fifth Asian country to host an F1 championship, following Japan (from 1976), Malaysia (1999), and China and Bahrain (2004).

The F1 Grand Prix is a series competition that tours 17 countries. If the Korean Grand Prix is held, it will be around the time when the Chinese and Japanese Grand Prix are held due to the issues of transporting the racecars. This year, the Japanese Grand Prix (15th) will be held on September 30, while the Chinese Grand Prix (16th) will be held on October 7. The champion of the series is decided by summing up the number of points won in each race; points are given for first to eighth place finishers (1st place, 10 pts; 2nd place, 8pts; 3rd, 6pts; 4th, 5pts; 5th, 4pts; 6th, 3pts; 7th, 2pts; 8th, 1pt).

Jeonnam Province presented an “F1 special bill” to the National Assembly’s Culture and Tourism Committee on February 27 in order to build an F1 racecourse, which will cost nearly 300 billion won.

KAVO, the group organizing the race in Korea, announced on December 7 last year that they have approved a racecourse 5,684 meters long and which will be the second-longest circuit among F1 circuits. On February 22, they revealed the design of major structures such as the grandstand. Construction will begin in July, and the goal is to complete it by 2009.

Still, there is a feeling of uneasiness. The reason is because in 1995, a company planned to host the F1 Grand Prix in Gunsan, Jeonbuk Province, and began development of a course, but abandoned the project. Also in 2003, one promoter said that it had agreed to host the U.S. auto championship CART series in Korea, and began building a racecourse in Seoul and Ansan, but this project was also abandoned.

Some are questioning whether F1 will be a hit when there are no Korean drivers participating in the race. In answer to this, KAVO announced that they will pick three to five talented drivers during the first half of this year, and in the latter half, they will have these drivers participate in F3 races, which are one level below F1, and provide support so that a Korean driver can take part in the 2010 F1 Grand Prix.