The Formula 1 World Championship could make a return to Valencia if plans by a Singapore-based consortium to revamp the city’s waterfront complex are given the green light.
Singapore-based ARC Resorts has announced plans to build a six-star hotel, casino, golf course and a museum for glass artists in the Spanish city’s marine area, in addition to a second hotel and number of luxury homes.
The waterfront precinct underwent major development in 2003 in preparation for the America’s Cup yacht races in 2007, with some of the major capital works including a metro rail line to the city and the local airport.
Fernando Alonso’s enormous popularity saw overwhelming demand for a second Grand Prix in Spain, and so the decision was made to build a semi-permanent street circuit along the waterfront with the much of the design work carried out by Hermann Tilke.
The first race took place in 2008, and while there were hopes that this would be another Monaco-style Grand Prix, it proved to be anything but the case.
The 25-turn circuit looked great on paper, and despite the pizzazz of the harbour and the big yachts berthed within, the expansive concrete-lined layout gave fans nothing more than dull processions. There was little that is romantic about the world’s greatest motorsport championship navigating its way through a maze of shipping containers and ten-tonne concrete blocks.
Hopes that the event would grow took a nosedive along with Spain’s economy, and after five years the event was dumped when plans to alternate the Spanish Grand Prix between it and the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona collapsed. The area has since fallen into complete disuse.
ARC Resorts has indicated that it would be willing to inject some $600 million to revive the Grand Prix and build what it describes will be “the best urban resort in Europe”.
The complex would create over 8,000 permanent new jobs – a divine boost for a city where unemployment is a staggering 25% – but there will be other obstacles to contend with before this can happen.
ARC has been involved in a number of developments around Singapore’s Marina Bay district, so it has a track record in this field. The company is owned by Mark Vlassopulos, the son of Tony Vlassopulos, who ran the short-lived Token F1 team in the 1970s.
Should the event return, it wouldn’t be called the ‘European Grand Prix’ anyway – next year’s inaugural race in Azerbaijan will carry that mantle (even though it isn’t in Europe – but Formula One Licensing did register and trademark the ‘Formula 1 Mediterranean Grand Prix’ in 2014. Perhaps they knew of ARC’s plans long before…
Image via XPB Images