Vietnam F1 Grand Prix to proceed in April despite virus fears

Track layout of street circuit Grand Prix in Hanoi. (Twitter pic/FormulaOneDaily)

HANOI: Vietnam’s inaugural Formula One Grand Prix will take place in Hanoi in April as planned, organisers told AFP Tuesday, avoiding the fate of the Chinese Grand Prix which was postponed over the deadly coronavirus.

The race will be held as “scheduled” on April 5, Le Ngoc Chi, CEO of Vietnam Grand Prix told AFP.

The virus, which has killed more than 1,800 people in China, has trashed Asia’s sporting calendar, forcing the postponement of top events including the Shanghai Grand Prix and the Hong Kong Sevens rugby.

But Vietnamese authorities said the country’s inaugural Formula One race would go ahead on schedule.

“The time for the… F1 race will not be postponed or delayed,” Tran Trung Hieu, deputy director of Hanoi’s tourism department was quoted as saying by state media Tuesday.

“Although this is a sports event, it has a very huge impact on Vietnam and Hanoi’s tourism,” he said, adding all measures will be taken to ensure the “safety of the event”.

AFP reporters saw workers erecting stands at the racetrack as construction continued this week.

The communist country will get its first taste of the glitz and glamour of Formula One, while the sport will attempt to reach new markets in Southeast Asia.

Hanoi has bet big on the event’s popularity, signing a 10-year, multi-million-dollar deal with Formula One last year which state media said would cost Vietnam US$60 million per year.

The fee has been picked up in full by the country’s largest private conglomerate, VinGroup.