Fenced off from the public and littered with plastic waste, Hanoi’s circuit lies largely deserted as hopes fade that Vietnam’s capital will ever host a Formula One Grand Prix. The city was due to make its F1 debut in 2020 but the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Hanoi has not appeared on the racing calendar since. Now the grandstands have been removed and most of the route is empty – apart from a few recreational cyclists who sneak in, lured by the open space in the busy city.
You’ll zoom past yellowed grass, weeds and windblown trash, but the track itself looks brand new, and “Vietnam” is still clearly visible where it was painted on the tarmac.
Outside the surrounding metal fence, Hanoi’s ubiquitous motorcycles have already reclaimed the roads once slated to form part of the 5.6-kilometer (3.5-mile) route.
Vietnam signed a 10-year deal with Formula 1 in 2018, betting that the sport’s glamor could transform Hanoi’s serious image and reflect the country’s economic boom.
The fee, which cost Vietnam $60 million a year, was to be covered entirely by the country’s largest private conglomerate, VinGroup, which had hoped to shine with a night race.
But after the 2020 cancellation, the race was dropped from the 2021 global calendar when the city’s mayor, Nguyen Duc Chung, a key supporter of the grand prix, was arrested.
Chung was sentenced to 10 years in prison on corruption charges.
“Without Chung, the future of the race in Hanoi is bleak,” a source close to the race told AFP on condition of anonymity in 2020.
State media said city authorities ruled out hosting the race between 2022 and 2029 in June last year.
However, authorities refused to confirm the news to AFP.
Hanoi was again absent from the 2023 race schedule announced last month.
Two and a half years after the first race should have taken place, the country’s small but growing F1 fan base is still disappointed.
“It would have been my first opportunity to see the drivers, the F1 cars, the racing teams in real life… and I wanted to feel what it’s like to sit next to an F1 track,” said 23-year-old Bui Vietnam Giang.
“I’m sorry it won’t happen. I hope it can be organized again in the future.”
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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