Despite continued criticism over massive losses being sustained in hosting the event, Korean Grand Prix organisers remain optimistic that the race will prove an ongoing success for the region, if F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone were willing to renegotiate contract terms to make the event more viable.
Many in F1 circles suggested that the Yeongyam venue had simply closed down after last year’s inaugural race – an event blighted by mismanagement and last-minute construction works simply to get it going.
Reports in the Swiss media claimed that fridges in team garages contained rotting food from the 2010 race weekend, while the garages themselves had not been painted since the first race. McLaren’s garages, for example, had Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber’s names still painted on the floor.
It wouldn’t take many fans not to notice the still-barely-built surrounds of the Yeongyam venue, which was reportedly going to have an entire metropolis spring up around the circuit layout. This gives rise to serious financial concerns for the venue.
“We are struggling in terms of profit because of the high investment and high cost structure,” chief organiser Park Joon-Yung admitted.
And that’s little surprise when you consider the £52 million it reportedly cost organisers to stage this year’s event, which includes a £35 million fee paid to Ecclestone’s FOM group for hosting and TV rights. That fee will rise by 10% per year until the current contract runs out after the 2016 race.
This year’s event reportedly garnered some £16 million in ticket revenue, with organisers claiming that almost 85,000 spectators were at the circuit on race day.
If the event doesn’t become financially viable, the contract to host the event go could go the same way as the ill-fated and equally poorly supported Turkish Grand Prix, with its contract being ripped up before it expires.
“We need the co-operation of Mr. Bernie Ecclestone,” Mr Joon-Yung hinted.
“We certainly want to continue with this event because it is a big event, even though we have losses.
“He knows perfectly well our current situation, and I hope he is more co-operative.”
Certainly, older school fans will be questioning the wisdom of hosting races in what the sport would optimistically describe as ‘burgeoning’ motorsport markets where, in truth, there is very little motorsport history or interest.
[Images via Sutton Images]