No to monkey business

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 September, 2004, 12:00am

There is one souvenir Formula 1 fans won't be able to take home this year: a stuffed monkey sitting in a race car, a design suggested by a Chinese company but rejected by F1 organisers.

'They told us we couldn't sell it because it resembled a model car,' said Yu Xiulin, an executive of official souvenir provider the Shanghai Racing Commercial Co.

But just about everything else was available - for a price. On the second day of the event yesterday, fans snapped up souvenirs as reminders of the mainland's first F1 race.

A BMW Williams souvenir key ring was selling for 150 yuan, while a Ferrari jacket set some fans back a hefty 1,500 yuan. For an uniquely Chinese souvenir, some fans picked up stainless-steel thermos bottles marked with the F1 logo.

Out at the track, Beijing fan Liu Yi spent 2,000 yuan for three T-shirts and a bag bearing the name of his favourite team, Ferrari. 'I understand similar T-shirts would only be one-tenth of the price, but I can't help it. After all, I am here,' he said.

But Shanghai resident Wang Qinlin, balked at the prices despite her boyfriend's offer to buy something to take home. 'It's just outrageous. We're not buying anything. We can get something better somewhere else,' she said.

Keen to make sure its hosting of the event goes smoothly, Shanghai has cracked down on pirated goods carrying the F1 name.

At the famed Xiangyang Road market in downtown Shanghai, fake brand-name watches and pirated DVDs were still available, but F1 souvenirs were scarce.

'The management office has banned us from selling anything involving Formula One. If we are caught, the goods will be seized,' said one stallholder surrounded by T-shirts and other clothing.

But another stallholder dives to the bottom of a pile of hats to pull out a black baseball cap with F1 written in grey. 'I put it at the very bottom,' he said.

At the tourist site Yu Garden, shopkeepers said some visitors had been asking for F1 souvenirs but they were reluctant to stock them since the event would only last for three days.

'The factories don't want to produce them. We have some Beijing 2008 Olympic souvenirs,' said a clerk at the Yuyuan Souvenir Shop.