SAT Governor Kanokphand Chulakasem says Thailand is lined up to be included on the F1 racing timetable for 2015, but that Cabinet approval was needed to financially underwrite the event.
“The racing contact is in my and Red Bull’s founder advisor, Michael de Santiesteban’s hands. However, before signing an official contact the authority has to present details to the Cabinet for final approval,” said Mr Chulakasem.
He also said Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, a non-profit association representing the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users, had inspected Rajdamnoen Avenue near Sanam Luang, one of the short-listed venues to host the night race.
“The venue gained positive feedback due to its landscaping and important attractions such as the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew and Sanam Luang that reflect a Thai atmosphere and will be illuminated for the night race.”
The track length will be 5 km, but it will require extensive improvements to the road surface and safety features so the first challenge is to make sure residents understand the benefit of hosting the event, he added.
However, there are some logistic obstacles, one of them being a new law that will ban racing on city streets mainly to end illegal motor cycle racing late at night. The F1 event will have to be covered by an exclusion in the law.
There are other options for the F1 road circuit. One is the government’s complex in honour of His Majesty the King on Chaengwattana Road and another Muang Thong Thani.
Late last year, government sources claimed Thailand would be included in the 2014 season calendar with a race slated for November.
However, there was no independent confirmation from the F1 brand owners, or anyone connected with the race series to support Thai government statements, which were dismissed as fanciful optimism.
Red Bull’s involvement is very feasible as it already sponsors an F1 race team and has made no secret of the fact that it has been pushing to bring the race to Thailand.
The company sponsored a single F1 car demonstration on Bangkok’s Rajdamnoen Avenue when Red Bull team driver Mark Webber drove around a city circuit on December 18, 2010, as part of the celebrations for HM the King’s birthday.