Shanghai overtakes HK in Formula One bid

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 February, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 February, 2002, 12:00am

Hong Kong appears to have lost out to Shanghai in a bid to land lucrative Formula One racing.

Tentative approaches are believed to have been made by Hong Kong officials to the sport's supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, and the Hong Kong Tourist Board and Invest Hong Kong, the territory's official investment promotion body, are known to have been eager to see Formula One brought to Hong Kong. But Shanghai officials confirmed that they had already held informal talks with Mr Ecclestone - whose company Formula One Holdings controls the sport globally - and they announced last week that two billion yuan (HK$1.8 billion) would be spent on a new race track with the aim of hosting Formula One racing within five years.

An industry source on the mainland said: 'The city will approach Bernie Ecclestone this year with a proposal. He needs to be presented with a complete package. Shanghai is attractive for the same reasons as Beijing for the Olympics - a market of 1.3 billion people that is very interesting to sponsors.'

Mr Ecclestone was unavailable for comment. His company controls the Formula One world championship, which will be run over 17 races this year, with three in the Asia-Pacific: Japan, Malaysia and Australia.

An event is estimated to earn some US$65 million (HK$507 million) for the country holding it, from visitors' spending, ticket sales and television coverage.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad decided to build a grand prix track after watching a race in Portugal.

But a similar attempt by Zhuhai failed, despite the city spending US$100 million on a circuit six years ago. It was bidding to host a race in 1999 but lost out because the sport's governing body decided its facilities were not good enough and that it did not have enough sponsors.