CHIANGRAI TIMES – Negotiations are under way for a Formula One Thailand Grand Prix, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has confirmed. Speaking in the nation’s capital, Bangkok, the energy-drink company’s billionaire founder told local media, “The idea is good. We are in talks. I can’t give details because it is not my responsibility. [F1 boss] Bernie Ecclestone agrees with the idea, and we might sign an agreement soon. Thailand could host a Formula One race in the next two or three years.”
Mateschitz’s tone suggests that Red Bull might be behind the idea and involved in the talks between Formula One and the Thai government.
Thailand is a target market for Mateschitz, and, 18 months ago, Mark Webber demonstrated a Red Bull F1 car on an improvised street circuit centered on Ratchadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok.
Thailand does have an FIA-licensed racing venue, named the Bira Circuit after the nation’s one and only F1 driver, Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh, who died in London in 1985. It is located on the outskirts of Pattaya, about 75 miles from the capital, and would need substantial upgrades to get an F1 license. A street circuit appears a more likely option. Mateschitz concluded, “I remember that a lot of people watched the show, so a race here will be successful. People could see champions racing here.”
As to how the F1 calendar–now at its apparent maximum of 20 races–could accommodate another new Grand Prix remains unknown. Ecclestone’s enthusiasm for alternating races among countries might be the solution, however.