Published : 2013-10-04 18:45
Updated : 2013-10-04 18:45
YEONGAM (AP) ― Korean Grand Prix organizers say there needs to be a significant reduction in the race’s hosting fee if it is to continue beyond this year, with the local promoter saying the chances of Formula One returning in 2014 are “50-50.’’
The Korean GP has been included on a provisional basis in the draft calendar of 22 races in 2014, albeit in April rather than its regular date in October.
However, acting promoter Park Won-hwa told the Associated Press it will be difficult for the event to continue unless F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone makes major concessions on the hosting fee and other terms.
“We want to improve the contract because we are still in a big deficit and we want to make it less, otherwise it’s difficult for us to continue,’’ Park said. “If the terms and conditions are really, in every respect, improved to suit our requirements, then we could do that.
“It’s difficult I would say, but we are very keen to continue the event because public opinion has changed in our favor.”
The race made a reported deficit of $37 million last year, and struggled to attract sponsors and spectators, with the track located about a four-hour drive south of Seoul, near the regional port city of Mokpo.
Park said deficits were narrowing after the first three years, but still remain too high and a major cut in the hosting fee was required. Hosting fees varied from race to race on the F1 circuit, and Park said: “I believe ours is higher than others but on the other hand, we never know because it’s confidential.’’
Hamilton fastest in practice
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton got the better of runaway Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel by setting the fastest time in Friday’s practice for the Korean Grand Prix.
Saturday’s qualifying shapes again as being a shootout between Mercedes and Red Bull, with Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg and the Red Bulls of Vettel and Mark Webber all within two-tenths of a second of the leading time.
Red Bull and Mercedes have between them taken every front-row grid spot for the past 10 races.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who is in second place in the drivers’ standings ― a fading 60 points behind Vettel ― was seventh fastest, seven-tenths of a second off Hamilton’s time.