7 October 2009
Whitmarsh: F1 should target US not Korea.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has claimed that Formula One is going in the wrong direction by attempting to spread its wings further into the Far East, and should be aiming to cement a return to the United States of America instead.
With South Korea set to host a round of the 2010 F1 world championship, the sport's eastward creep will encompass Japan, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Korea, as well as Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, but Whitmarsh insists that a replacement for Indianapolis should be its priority, given the manufacturers' desire to enhance their profile in the USA.
Amid claims that having six Asian races is causing the F1 teams body FOTA to have 'reservations' about the calendar's focus on the region, the McLaren boss believes that Bernie Ecclestone should be doing more to secure a return to Canada and adding an American date to complement it.
"My personal opinion is that we've got other priorities, we've go to act in North America," he stressed, "There shouldn't be question marks over Montreal, we should be prepared to sacrifice a normal week and get to Montreal. We want to make sure we crack North America. It's got a big market.
"I don't think we should be so arrogant as to expect them to pay us good money to go there. I think we messed it up so badly in the past - we should be saying 'if necessary we'll come there for free and we'll work with you to develop the North American audience'. We're meant to be doing it for the fans and other people. "
The inaugural Korean race is pencilled in on 17 October 2010, and has been boosted - like so many of F1's other new additions - by promises of government funding.
Despite concerns over whether South Korea could justify hosting an event would stall development of the proposed circuit, KAVO's efforts in lining up half of the funding it needed from private investors has now been matched by the government agreeing to provide additional money and necessary legislation.
Construction work at the track, sited 320km south of capital Seoul, has already begun, with a forecast completion date of July 2010, but Whitmarsh has raised his own concerns about the siting of the new Korea Auto Valley [KAVO] facility.
"We hear stories it's the Yeongnam-based circuit, four or five hours from anywhere, [where] there's no infrastructure, no hotels," he told the Press Association, "No-one can get there. It's going to make it difficult for fans and difficult for media."
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