Korean Grand Prix's Deficit Sparks Debate

      October 26, 2010 10:55

      Last weekend's Korean Grand Prix, the nation's first-ever Formula One event, failed to live up to expectations in terms of generating economic benefits. The race's local organizing committee had estimated economic ripple effects of W4.9 trillion, or W700 billion per year, from hosting the F1 event for seven years. But a committee official said the race turned out to be in the red.

      According to experts, the main problems were lower-than-expected ticket sales, a lack of facilities nearby the circuit in Yeongam, South Jeolla Province, and inexperienced management by the organizers.

      The poor results of the inaugural F1 event are likely to throw fuel on an already heated discussion over the race track's construction costs, which overshot the original budget by some W60 billion.

      The circuit was originally forecast to cost around W340 billion, including W290 billion for construction, W35 billion to purchase the site and W15 billion for design. But more money was poured in to bring the track's surface and facilities in line with the standards of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile.

      Nevertheless, the Korea Circuit could partially compensate for the deficit by generating money through other events, as it will host a packed calendar of auto races next month. From Nov. 6 the Korea Motor Sports Grand Festival will take over the track for two days, while the nation's largest professional race, the 2010 CJ TVing.com Super Race, will be held there from Nov. 20.

      A week later the circuit will host the International Korea F3 Superprix, a lower level of F1. Many of the top F1 drivers, such as Louis Hamilton of McLaren, worked their way up through the ranks of F3 and the GP2 Series.

      On Oct. 14 next year, the Korean Grand Prix returns to the track with the 17th race of the 20-race F1 season. That event will be followed by India's first-ever F1 race, to be held at a newly-built circuit in Delhi.

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