World champion Lewis Hamilton has questioned Formula One’s policy of organising races in new countries after this month’s announcement of the Vietnam Grand Prix.
The British racing driver told the BBC that he would prefer to see more stops in countries with a genuine racing tradition.
“On the racing side, I don’t know how important it is to go to new countries as such,” said Hamilton, who sealed his fifth world title last month. “If you had the Silverstone Grand Prix and a London Grand Prix, it would be pretty cool.”
The Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, will hold a Formula One street race from 2020 after signing a 10-year deal. Formula One has steadily expanded beyond its traditional heartlands, adding races in China, India, South Korea, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey — with mixed results.
Historical European races in Britain, Germany and Italy have come under threat; France dropped off the circuit for 10 years before returning this season.
“We’ve got a lot of real racing history in England, Germany, Italy and now in the States it is starting to grow,” said Hamilton. “But you only have one event per year in those places. If it was my business, I’d be trying to do more events in those countries.
He added: “I’ve been to Vietnam before and it is beautiful. I’ve been to India before to a race, which was strange because India was such a poor place yet we had this massive, beautiful grand prix track made in the middle of nowhere. I felt very conflicted when I went to that grand prix.
“We had a grand prix in Turkey and hardly anyone came. Cool track, cool weekend, but poor audience.”
Formula One has thrived in Singapore, but it didn’t last long in India and South Korea. Vietnam also has scant racing tradition.
Hamilton said: “If you have the German Grand Prix and you’ve got a Grand Prix in Berlin, I think connecting to cities where there are a lot of people is probably a good thing, not necessarily going to countries where they don’t know so much about Formula One.” — AFP