Formula 1 heading for Phuket?
Phuket, Khon Kaen or Nakhon Ratchasima could be a new venue for Thailand’s first Formula One event in 2015.
The Tourism and Sports Ministry had planned to host the race on Bangkok’s Rattanakosin Island, home to landmarks such as the Grand Palace. But the proposal has drawn protests from people in the area and from environmentalists.
Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Phurisisak said yesterday that the protests may prompt the organisers to move the venue to another province that has proper facilities for more than 100,000 people.
Phuket might be an ideal venue as it is a well-known city, while Khon Kaen and Nakhon Ratchasima are major provinces in the Northeast, he said.
The idea must be approved by the International Motoring Federation (FIA). If the FIA insists the event must be held in Bangkok, then it may have to be scrapped, he said.
“We may have to cancel the proposed Grand Prix,” he said.
Thailand is among several countries vying for a spot on the F1 calendar and the Sports Authority of Thailand last month agreed on a 5.995-km track layout for a night race through the heart of Bangkok.
The proposed route would start and finish at the Royal Thai Naval Dockyard next to the Chao Phraya river and near the Rama VIII Bridge and would then head south towards the Grand Palace.
It would then loop up to Ratchadamnoen Avenue, where Mark Webber completed a demonstration run in a Red Bull in 2010 (see video), go past Democracy Monument and loop back round to the start along Phra Sumen.
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has reportedly given the green light for Thailand to host a race in 2015, in principle, but no contract has yet been signed.