Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone opposed last year a mega-deal to put Vietnam on the Grand Prix calendar.
Speaking to Britain’s The Independent, Ecclestone revealed that the Asian country was eager to secure the rights to a race to promote its tourism and industries, but the former F1 chief scrapped the potential ten-year deal worth around $375 million for various reasons.
“Last year I was approached about having a race in Vietnam,” Ecclestone told The Independent.
“I was offered the opportunity to meet the president about doing a deal for a Grand Prix. I could have done the deal and signed it in August.
“Everything was arranged for this to happen but I didn’t do the deal because we already have quite a few races in that part of the world and I thought it might be a little bit over the top to have another one,” he said.
The 86-year-old, who was criticised for putting places like Sochi, Abu Dhabi or Azerbaijan on the F1 map, believed a Vietnam Grand Prix sounded a bit too exotic and would have been a step too far.
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“It hasn’t got any racing history at all,” Ecclestone said.
“So I didn’t want to put another race in the same sort of area where we already have very good promoters.
“And I was criticised for putting the races in Baku and in Russia because they hadn’t got that much racing history.”
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Adding another venue in Asia, in addition to Malaysia, China and Singapore, had the support however of several prominent figures linked with F1, such as Formula 1’s independent director at the time and WPP CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell.
Gianluca Di Tondo, senior global brand director of F1 sponsor Heineken was also apparently keen on the idea, stating that if he could wish for another race to be added to the calendar, he would choose Vietnam.
Given Liberty boss Greg Maffei’s recent comments about adding new races of value to the sport’s calendar – and his disparaging comments about Azerbaijan, it’s doubtful any deal with Vietnam could be revived.
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