• Korean Grand Prix

Doubts over the future of Korean Grand Prix

ESPNF1 Staff
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This year's Korean Grand Prix ran up substantial losses © Sutton Images

The future of the Korean Grand Prix, which only debuted in 2010, is in doubt after organisers warned they could not continue to sustain substantial losses on an event which so far has failed to enthuse the local community.

It is believed that the 2011 grand prix resulted in a deficit of around US$56 million, almost exactly the amount of the hosting fee paid to Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One commercial rights-holder. The overall cost of the event was around US$80 million.

Speaking to Autosport, Park Won Hwa, the race promoter, warned that the event could be scrapped unless Ecclestone renegotiated the fee, which is due to rise annually by 10%.

"We are trying hard, but we need the co-operation of Ecclestone," he said. "We certainly want to continue with this event because it is a big event, even though we have losses. We want to give this region momentum by holding this event to help boost its economy and to boost the image, and to change our farming background in this region.

"He knows perfectly well our current situation, and I hope he is more co-operative."

The organisers are under increasing political pressure from those who argue the money would be better spent in helping the local economy. The Yeongam circuit is situated in a largely agricultural region of low income communities.

"Some people in this region are against the race because of a big financial loss," Hwa explained. "Those citizens, who have a background as farmers and are normally poor, want to have the funds distributed for other purposes rather than be used for this so far unpopular event."