We reported last year that plans were being put together to design a purpose built circuit at Llucmajor, a short drive from the major airport at Palma, the main city on the island of Mallorca. The site could in fact become a replacement venue for the unpopular European Grand Prix at the Valencia street circuit.
The Mallorca Zeitung newspaper is reporting that event organisers are now seeking investor backing to get the circuit built in time for a 2012 debut race, and it is rumoured they will require some $160-200 million in investment.
The circuit is being designed by someone other than Hermann Tilke, with local designer Gabriel Palmer penning the initial plans, which have been submitted to Ferrari for feedback.
“The project would help not only the local community but give the whole island a tremendous economic boost,” Llucmajor mayor Joan Juame said.
The head of the Balaeric racing federation and Mayor Juame have reportedly met with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, and it is believed that F1 event organiser Philippe Gurdjian – the long-time promoter of the French Grand Prix when it was at Magny Cours – is also involved.
“Ecclestone was enthusiastic and encouraged us to pursue the project,” Balaeric racing federation boss Agustin Arbex is quoted as saying.
One must of approach speculation about potentially new venues in Formula 1 with a healthy degree of scepticism. Of late, we have reported rumours of Grands Prix circuits being proposed in countries such as Bulgaria and Vietnam, while there is continued speculation of a Grand Prix coming to the streets of Rome, with other suggested venues like Cape Town and Qatar also in the mix.
To be fair to Mallorca, a Grand Prix on an island with restricted access makes little, if any, sense. The rather small population of the island would make the longevity of such an event unlikely, and it would almost certainly be forced to rely on government support when corporate interest inevitably dies down.
It is relying heavily on Valencia getting rid of its hosting responsibilities, but the issue with Valencia lies more with its awful circuit design, which would exponentially improve the popularity of the event with fans.
Certainly from Ecclestone’s position, having so many new venues interested in hosting a Grand Prix gives him plenty of bargaining power to increase his promoter fees from existing venues wanting to retain their hosting duties.