NOVEMBER 14, 2008

Shanghai deal likely to lapse

The government of Shanghai is thinking about ending its current deal with Formula 1. This is no surprise as the race has been a financial disaster for the city.

"We're doing the assessment. By next year, we should be able to give you the answer," Qiu Weichang, the deputy director of the Shanghai Administration of Sports, told 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 co-operation 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."

Breaking even is decdedly unlikely given the total ambivalence to F1 seen in Shanghai, where the local population clearly has other priorities.

The current contract costs as much as $50m a year and runs until 2010.

Ecclestone is rumoured to be busy negotiating with better venues in China with his desire being to have a street race at night, as in Singapore. He believes that this will get the Chinese excited about F1. There are nearly 30 cities in China with the kind of population needed to support an F1 race. Ecclestone needs to find one that has tourist attractions and ambitions to become better known on the world stage.