Doubt has been cast over the future of the Chinese Grand Prix with senior track officials revealing that the huge costs of holding the event have begun to take their toll.
The impressive $240 million Shanghai International Circuit first hosted the Chinese Grand Prix in 2004 admidst high hopes that the event would boost the country’s global image.
But with commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone charging an estimated £34 million fee just to host the event one of the highest rates for any country race officials have begun to question the sustainability of the grand prix in light of poor ticket sales and declining interest.
“We’re doing the assessment. By next year we should be able to give you an answer,” Qiu Weichang, deputy director of the Shanghai Administration of Sports, was quoted as saying by AFP.
“We want to create a win-win situation, for our side and for Bernie (Ecclestone) and the F1 organisers as well. If this is something we can do, and our cooperation is very happy and smooth, we will consider it.
“Of course we would like at least to break even. But there are two factors, one is the assessment the other part is the win-win situation that we can create.”
Following the success of the first ever night race in Singapore, Shanghai could face pressure to turn the Chinese Grand Prix into a night race, but Qiu added that it may not be the right move.
“In Singapore… holding the event at night is a good way to attract tourists to a small country,” he said. “It’s obviously enlightened us quite a bit but we will decide based on our own situation what we’re going to do to attract fans.
“I think Singapore is hosting this event in their own unique way but we have our own situation.”