Lewis Hamilton questions Vietnam Grand Prix as Formula One heads to Hanoi in 2020
- Five-time champion unsure about racing in ‘countries where they don’t know so much about F1’
- Mercedes driver would prefer more venues with ‘real racing history’
Lewis Hamilton has questioned Formula One adding an additional race in Vietnam instead of going to countries with “real racing history” like Britain and Germany.
Vietnam will host its first race on the streets of the capital Hanoi in April 2020 after becoming the newest addition to the F1 calendar.
“I’ve been to Vietnam before and it is beautiful,” five-time world champion Hamilton told the BBC. “I’ve been to India before to a race which was strange because India was such a poor place yet we had this massive, beautiful grand prix track made in the middle of nowhere. I felt very conflicted when I went to that grand prix.
“We had a grand prix in Turkey and hardly anyone came. Cool track, cool weekend but poor audience.”
F1 owners Liberty Media have agreed a “multi-year” deal with Vietnam, which becomes the 22nd country to host a grand prix.
“On the racing side, I don’t know how important it is to go to new countries as such,” Mercedes driver Hamilton said.
“If you had the Silverstone Grand Prix and a London Grand Prix, it would be pretty cool.”
Since 2004, races in Bahrain, China, Turkey, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, South Korea, India, Russia and Azerbaijan have all been added to the calendar.
But Britain, Germany, Italy, France and Belgium have all struggled in recent years to keep their places on the calendar amid mounting hosting costs.
“We’ve got a lot of real racing history in England, Germany, Italy and now in the States it is starting to grow,” Hamilton said.
“But you only have one event per year in those places. If it was my business, I’d be trying to do more events in those countries.
“If you have the German Grand Prix and you’ve got a grand prix in Berlin, I think connecting to cities where a lot of people are is probably a good thing, not necessarily going to countries where they don’t know so much about Formula One.”
Hanoi will be the first new race added under Liberty Media’s ownership following their takeover from Bernie Ecclestone.
“Since we became involved in this sport in 2017, we have talked about developing new destination cities to broaden the appeal of Formula 1,” F1’s chief executive Chase Carey said last week.
“The Vietnamese Grand Prix is a realisation of that ambition.”
The Vietnam Grand Prix will become the third race in Southeast Asia, following Singapore and Malaysia, which was ditched after the 2017 race because of poor ticket sales .
“It’s a further demonstration of Vietnam’s ability, as one of the fastest growing economies in the world to host events on a global scale and attract tourism to the country,” city of Hanoi chairman Nguyen Duc Chung said.
The proposed track with 22 turns over 5.565km will be F1’s fourth street race along with Monaco, Singapore and Azerbaijan.