There are probably too many Formula 1 races in Asia at the moment, but one country that is keen to get involved is Thailand, where Red Bull originated and where there seems to be a certain amount of national pride about the success of the Red Bull Racing team in recent years. There has been talk of a street race in Bangkok and there is no doubt that the government would welcome moves to restore the tourist industry which was damaged by the military coup in 2006, and the subsequent political instabity and violence. The situation changed in July last year when an election brought Yinglat Shinawatra to power. She is the country’s first female Prime Minister and is the sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was overthrown in the coup. he was later found guilty of various corruption charges and has been living in exile in recent years. The new government is now looking at whether to accept a recommendation that the sentence against Thaksin be dropped. There are fears that his return to Thailand could trigger new clashes between his supporters and those of the conservative royalist elite and the military. The army says that it will not intervene again as long as the new government keeps on the straight and narrow. More than 100 politicians were banned from office five years ago, but there are moves now to have them allowed back.
There is a small permanent circuit in the seaside town of Pattaya, which was built in 1985. This is named after Prince Bira, a member of the Thai royal family, who raced Grand Prix cars with great success in the 1930s and 1950s.
Red Bull would likely help to pay for such an event although the drink on offer in Thailand is very different to the international one but more than 100,000 people turned out recently when Mark Webber drove a Red Bull-Renault on Bangkok’s Rajdamnoen Avenue, as part of the celebrations for HM the King’s 84th birthday. The event was presided over by Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn. Red Bull and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration jointly organised the event.
It should also be noted that Red Bull is funding the career of a young Anglo-Thai rising star called Alexander Albon. The 16-year-old is making a big step up this year moving to Formula Renault, after an impressive career in karts, which included winning the KF3 World Championship and battling Nick de Vries for last year’s KF1 title, finishing runner-up in his debut year against the more experienced de Vries. Albon will be driving for Epic Racing in the Eurocup and Alps championships.
The problem will a Thai GP is that the F1 calendar is already oversubscribed and there is speculation that there might start to be alternation between some of the Asia venues.