It seems that Thailand is bidding for a Grand Prix, at least according to newspapers in that country. There have been stories of a Thai Grand Prix for several years, because of the connection between Thailand and Red Bull, the original drink company being based there, but up to now there has only been speculation. I did hear a couple of months ago that Thailand should be taken seriously as a candidate and that the plan was for a street race in Thailand. The newspaper reports suggest that the event will be held at night, just as happens in Singapore. But, as we all know in F1, the show is not over until the fat lady sings and so it is probably not very wise for the locals to be jabbering to the media before a deal is done. The plan is for a race in 2014 but the calendar for that year is fairly business already, although some of the projects mentioned are not necessarily going to happen. This all helps Ecclestone to keep the price of the sport going up. The teams are saying that 20 races is enough and more and more countries seem to be interested and so the logical conclusion is that F1 will go to the highest bidder, or at least the bidder that offers the most in a place that is strategically interesting for Formula 1.
At the moment there are new races being discussed in France, Mexico, the United States, Turkey, Russia and Thailand. There has been talk of others. The problem is that they cannot all be fitted on the calendar. Ecclestone himself is talking down New Jersey, although this is probably in order to get money that has been promised on the table. It would not be a wise idea to dump the New York event for the sake of a few million dollars – and Ecclestone knows that – but he has to keep up appearances. France is largely dependent on money and the government (inevitably) is not helping. This means that if there is to be a French event, there will have to be guarantees from regional governments, as Mr E’s lawyers like this kind of thing before handing out racing, so they know that they will be guaranteed their cash. There are doubts about some of the current races in the long term, notably Korea, Germany and Belgium.
There are many questions also being asked about the race in Russia, although in recent days the Russian Automobile Federation has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE to train senior Russian officials and volunteers in preparation for the planned event in 2014. The agreement was signed by ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Lieutenant General Victor Kiryanov, the President of the Russian Automobile Federation. The initial agreement may be extended to provide Russia with further advice on mobility issues such as road safety, international documentation and environmental initiatives.
General Kiryanov said that the F1 circuit in Sochi will be completed in time. Around 40 Russian officials and marshals will attend the upcoming Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit as part of the training.