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Asia

Promoters hope to boost tourism to Korea via Formula One

Formula One held its latest Grand Prix this weekend at its newest circuit in South Korea. The race got off to a wet start for the 24 drivers and a delay caused by the rain made it one of the longest races in history.

Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso celebrates his win in Yeongham

Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso celebrates his win in Yeongham

If you watch an F1 race on television, you probably get a better view than from on the grandstand but some fans say you do not go to a race for the view but for the noise.

Around 80,000 spectators braved the on and off downpour to watch South Korea’s first Formula One race at a new circuit in Yeongnam, 320 km south of Seoul.

The 220 million dollar Korea International Circuit is F1's newest venue and the fifth in Asia.

The 5.6 kilometer-long circuit has 18 turns

The 5.6 kilometer-long circuit has 18 turns

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso won the race

Sitting in the stands overlooking the starting line, fans such as 16-year-old Kim Jin-suk were excited that F1 had finally made it to their country.


"I really like these fast cars. I've been a fan for about three years but it’s the first time I've gotten to see the races in person," he said enthusiastically.

After an hour-long rain delay, Kim and the other spectators finally got to see what they had come for.

Water sprayed out from behind the race-cars as they zipped down the 5.6 kilometer long track. The wet surface and 18 turns may have been responsible for several crashes with 9 out of 24 drivers not completing the race.

The race was one of the longest in Formula One history because of a rain delay

The race was one of the longest in Formula One history because of a rain delay

At the end, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso stood atop the highest podium.

Formula One not that popular yet in South Korea

South Korea does not have a large Formula One following and for many in the crowd it was a completely new experience.

The 20-year old Noh Sung Hyun, who volunteered as a guide, said she did "not know that much about F1 before. But I really hope to come back now that I have had the chance to work here."

Adrian Kim, a project director at the Korean Tourism Organization, wants Noh and many other F1 fans to come back again.

"One way of promoting tourism to Korea via F1 racing is by providing shuttle air service from several locations in Asia as well as by targeting markets in Europe with special Formula One travel packages," he explained. "But this year we did not get permission from the circuit and fell short of our goals."

Better luck next year

Kim said this was not the only problem regarding the international competition. It was not even certain until a few weeks ago that construction of the circuit would be ready in time. Work was still being done on the facility up into the final hours.

There was work being done on the track until the very last minute

There was work being done on the track until the very last minute

Many fans and Formula One crews complained about huge traffic jams and the lack of nearby accommodation.

Kim said that there would be work to improve the venue and that the organizers had learned from their mistakes, repeating what seemed to be the unofficial motto of this F1 race: "Next year, maybe, I think, much better."

Author: Jason Strother (Yeongnam)
Editor: Anne Thomas

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