A new deal to keep the Chinese Grand Prix on the calendar for 2018 and beyond will soon be announced, a senior F1 official has stated.
Sean Bratches, Managing Director of Commercial Operations, confirmed the sport’s new owners have been in discussions with the event’s promoters, Juss Event, and that the new deal is close to completion to see the series remain at the Shanghai International Circuit.
“We’ve been working hard with the promoter and we’ve got an agreement in principle,” he said. “My suspicion is that it will be executed by the end of next month.”
In June the provisional 2018 season calendar was released with both the Chinese and Singapore Grands Prix listed as provisional, leading to speculation the Shanghai race may be axed from the roster.
The proposed schedule was released earlier than in previous years as part of Liberty Media’s continued efforts to make F1 more fan and sponsor-friendly. Bratches added there is no fear of the sport losing the Chinese Grand Prix, a regular on the calendar since 2004.
“Next year the schedule will be released and there will be nothing provisional about Shanghai because we will have a long-term deal.”
While there has been no official statement on the future of the Singapore Grand Prix, the event’s promoter Colin Syn is confident a new deal for the famous night race is “very close”.
“It’s a work in progress, it’s a serious matter, so we’re being very careful. Everything we do has to be together.” said Syn.
The sport’s US owners are eager to maintain and further develop F1’s reach in Asia and Bratches revealed they are looking at potentially holding an additional two street races in the region.
“I’m spending a lot of time reaching out proactively to cities” he stated. “And ultimately we will realise more street races than we have seen historically.
“We will go to iconic cities where there are large fan bases, particularly new fan bases that we can activate. From a fan standpoint the backdrops of these city centres can really make compelling television and pictures.
“We are very focused on bringing additional Grands Prix to the continent here,” he added. “We’re in talks with a couple of cities to that end. We think there is a lot of vibrancy to having a few more street races to the calendar.”
With Liberty Media’s desire to expand the calendar to as many as 25 races a season, there is high likelihood of an F1 expansion into Asia despite the concerns of most teams that such an expansion would prove too costly and place too great a strain on its personnel and resources.
Images via Renault Sport F1 and Scuderia Toro Rosso