October 17, 2011 11:15
Sebastian Vettel (24) cruised home in the Formula One Korean Grand Prix on Sunday a massive 12 seconds ahead of Britain's Lewis Hamilton (26).
Vettel completed the 55 laps around the 5.615 km circuit (total distance of 308.83 km) in 1 hour 38 minutes and 01.994 seconds for his 10th win of the season, capping a fantastic race in rain-free conditions. Last year's winner, Fernando Alonso (30, Ferrari), who makes W48 billion (US$1=W1,156) a year, finished fifth, while Red Bull picked up the constructors' title.
Organizers of Korea's second-ever F1 GP staged a hiccup-free event after being criticized last year for a number of shortcomings.
Around 160,000 people turned up to get as close as they could to the pinnacle of motor sport, similar to the number of spectators who showed last year. The difference this year was that there were no major traffic jams near the entrance of the Korea International Circuit as more roads were built heading toward the circuit this year as well as new parking lots, and shuttle buses ferried passengers between the venue and the parking areas for greater convenience.
The organizers of the race in Yeongam, South Jeolla Province also had all the facilities and amenities up and running. These included 90 food and beverage stalls, free face painting events and a K-pop concert by stars such as Super Junior.
Although Red Bull's Vettel was already crowned this year's champion earlier this month in Japan for the second straight year, there was no lack of excitement during Sunday's race as Michael Schumacher crashed out in spectacular fashion and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton battled with Red Bull's Mark Webber for second place.
Meanwhile, South Jeolla Province, one of the organizers of the race, said around W60 billion of losses are expected -- not unusual in the sport, where hosting rights are a golden opportunity to brand the city or region to a global TV audience of millions.
The province, which won the rights to host the F1 race until 2016, has to spend an additional W60 billion next year including payments for the rights. Officials at the province said this year's race cost W94 billion, with ticket sales projected to amount to W30 billion.
The province paid Formula One Management W64 billion this year -- W48 billion to host the race and W16 billion for televising rights -- and spent another W30 billion to operate the event. It has agreed to pay FOM an additional 10 percent each year to host the race until 2016.
For last year's race, the province expected to post a gain of about W7 billion, but this turned into losses of W96.2 billion due to cost of finishing the W300-billion track.
Concerns over escalating losses were cited during a National Assembly audit earlier this year. Liberty Forward Party lawmaker Lee Myung-soo, who is a member of the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts, said, "The province is expected to incur a total loss of W389.3 billion by 2016."
"Unlike the optimistic forecasts, the F1 race has a structure that is bound to rack up losses," he added.
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