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F1 can’t find traction in Korea

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Published : 2013-01-10 18:46
Updated : 2013-01-10 18:46

With a worldwide audience of more than 500 million, Formula 1 sounds like the ideal sporting contest to host in your own backyard.

With Grand Prix throughout the year, from Monaco to Texas to Montreal, Korea should be delighted to join the ranks of those hosting the highest class of open-wheeled auto racing.

However, since the inaugural 2010 Korean Grand Prix, Korean interest is sagging and the organizer’s three-year loss is approaching 175 billion won ($163 milion), which has attracted negative coverage in the local press.

Beyond that, despite Korea’s status as a prosperous, competitive country, it has failed to produce any F1 competitors.

In fact, all of Asia could use a boost in developing interest in F1.

Europe and the Americas have long dominated the sport as the only continents to have supplied F1 champions.

Europe’s flags crowded this year’s championship table with Germany’s Sebastian Vettel beating Spain’s Fernando Alonso to the title. Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen finished third, with two British drivers completing the top five.

Only a smattering of Asian drivers have even competed at this top level.

As the governing body of motorsport, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile has worked in recent years to expand the number of Asian circuits to eight as of 2012, a significant portion of the 20 circuits hosted globally.

Home to some of the world’s strongest markets, Asia could offer huge commercial opportunities for the sport if it were tapped properly.

Motorsport organizers also have worked to help bridge the gap between F1 and Asia.

The GP2 Series, a stepping stone to F1 for many drivers, expanded to Asia in 2008. Teams competing in the GP2 Asia Series are encouraged to supply a driver who is neither European nor from the Americas.

Drivers from Bahrain, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan and China have grabbed the wheel, but Europeans have retained a stubborn hold on the lead, winning three out of four championships. (Yonhap News)

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