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Formula 1

F1's likely next new street race explained

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

Formula 1’s next new street race appears to be edging closer as Thailand’s prime minister steps up his bid to get a race in the capital city Bangkok.

Srettha Thavisin met with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali last month and followed that up with discussions last weekend as a guest at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Thavisin is in Italy on an official trip but met with F1 executives at Imola “in line with the Thai government’s intention to bring F1 racing to Thailand in the near future”, he said.

The Race understands that while Domenicali visited the country after the Chinese Grand Prix in April to see the proposal, there is not yet any agreement in place. Thai media has reported Thavisin’s confidence that the race, slated for 2027 or 2028, will get over the line and could be confirmed this year.

Thavisin’s Imola trip included meeting with Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner and Williams’s Thai driver Alex Albon, who has just signed a new multi-year deal that will keep him on the grid for when this race is likely to materialise.

It is hoped that Red Bull, which originated from the company’s late co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz meeting with Chaleo Yoovidhya in Thailand in the early 1980s, will become a key partner in the project.

The Yoovidhya family owns 51% of Red Bull GmbH and is a vital but silent backer of its F1 empire.

Red Bull held one of its regular F1 car street demonstrations in Bangkok in 2010, pictured in this article.

Red Bull Bangkok F1 street demo 2010

A feasibility study into a fully-fledged Bangkok street circuit was commissioned over a decade ago by Thailand’s sports authority but never progressed.

The modern plan appears to be for a city street race as well, and construction of the track would be part-funded by the country’s government-owned petroleum authority.

Adding another Asian race would match F1’s ambitions for where it wants to expand, as while it has not been able to revive an African round as hoped it was known that an extra race in southeast Asia was desired – beyond a fourth race in the United States, with rumours of a planned Chicago Grand Prix believed to be exaggerated despite interest within the city itself.

A Vietnam Grand Prix was one of F1’s first big deals of the Liberty era but that race never materialised despite agreeing a long-term and the circuit even being built.

Vietnam Grand Prix F1 track

Since then, a new race in the region has been a target. Domenicali said in a recent call for F1’s parent company Liberty Media’s Q1 2024 financial results that “in the next couple of years, we are expecting to announce also some new venues that could be very attractive to grow the business of Formula 1”.

The prospect of yet another street race joining the calendar will be divisive among F1 personnel and fans given there is scepticism about the quality of racing this produces in an era of bigger, heavier cars - with mixed results from the Jeddah, Miami and Las Vegas races introduced on Liberty's watch.

Miami Grand Prix 2024

But adding a Thai race would at least not swell the calendar beyond the current 24-race schedule. F1 has consistently insisted it does not intend to go beyond that number and there is already an intention for Italy to go back to one slot per season rather than its current two.

“Now the point is to keep the balance between the different continents that are requesting the different grands prix,” said Domenicali.

This means having some races alternating places on the schedule, and some disappearing. 

For example, Barcelona is expected to disappear once Madrid joins the calendar, and the recent run of grands prix at Imola is unlikely to continue beyond 2025 – and if it does, it would most likely be as a rotation with Monza, Italy’s other race.

“For a long time, it was perceived that the growth in promotion would come from incremental races,” Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei said earlier this month.

“We obviously went from 18-something up to this 24 level, which is where we do not anticipate growing any more races.

“It actually creates a great incentive to be able to play promoters off against each other and… not to try and take advantage of them but just, given the amount of demand we have both among fans to attend and among promoters to host an event, we've been able to find attractive pricing and good uplift.

“We continue to find new venues and new locations, which find it very attractive given the amount of demand we have and given the opportunities they've seen others pursue.”

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