F1's double vision: Beijing road race on pole as search for host city of second GP in China begins

Sports | 17 Apr 2019

Formula 1 is in talks with six local governments in China this week about holding a second grand prix in the country, a senior F1 official said, with a Beijing road race said to have been floated.

A second grand prix - most likely on the streets - would complement the existing one on the US$450 million (HK$3.529 billion) Shanghai International Circuit.

No country currently has two F1 races, although officials are negotiating for a second grand prix in the United States.

F1's landmark 1,000th race took place in Shanghai on Sunday, underlining China's growing role as the sport's US-based owner looks to Asian markets.

A source with knowledge of the matter said that a race on the streets of the Chinese capital Beijing has been raised as one idea.

Sean Bratches, F1's managing director of commercial operations, did not confirm or deny the road-race plan for Beijing.

"In terms of interest, we would be highly interested in a street race," he said in Shanghai. "It would be a nice juxtaposition to the purpose-built, extraordinary facility that we have here. Our intent is to bring our show to the people."

Bratches said F1 chiefs are this week visiting six potential host cities in China.

"There's meetings set up in each with government officials to talk about identifying a second city to host a grand prix," Bratches said. "We think there's an opportunity to grow from that perspective."

Liberty Media, which took over F1 in early 2017 in a multibillion-dollar deal, wants to have more street races, believing that is the best way to attract new fans.

Next year, Hanoi will host an F1 road race, while on Saturday crowds watched China's Zhou Guanyu drive a Formula One car in central Shanghai.

"If you want to elevate the brand to the casual fan and the non-fan to move them up the ladder to become avid fans, you're going to need to... demonstrate and show to them what this sport is about," Bratches said.

The shift to China has angered some traditionalists.

There was talk of moving the milestone 1,000th race to Silverstone, in England, which staged the first race back in 1950. But staging it in Shanghai was apt, said Bratches, and "we have no regrets."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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