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Could Imola lose out in favour of Thailand?

Could Imola lose out in favour of Thailand?

Thailand’s Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin attended the 2024 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix to meet key Formula 1 stakeholders

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Thavisin’s trip to Italy marks a step forward in negotiations for an F1 Thai Grand Prix.

Srettha Thavisin and Stefano Domenicali in Imola discussion the potential of a Thai Grand Prix
Srettha Thavisin and Stefano Domenicali on the starting grid of the 2024 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. The pair are in discussion for a potential F1 Thai Grand Prix. (Image Credit: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images)

Srettha Thavisin, Prime Minister of Thailand attended the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix this past weekend. He was there to continue discussions with Stefano Domenicali, Formula 1 CEO and to meet vital stakeholders.

Following his visit to Imola, Thavisin shared some photos and thoughts in a post on Twitter. He said:

“Thailand has the potential to host F1 and hosting F1 will bring employment, income and knowledge, which will enhance Thailand’s economy.”

He continued:

“I want everyone, especially Motorsport fans, to help be a spokesperson and help push Thailand to be the host of F1 for the Thai economy. For all Thai people.”

Bid for a Thai Grand Prix

In April, discussions began for Thailand to host an F1 grand prix. It is Thavisin’s vision for F1 cars to race on the streets of Bangkok. Domenicali visited Thailand for a meeting with Thavisin to begin talks.

After Domenicali’s visit, Thavisin shared on Twitter that he: “sincerely hope[s] that this trip… shows Thailand’s potential to host a Formula One competition.”

Various Southeast Asian nations have bid to host the Formula 1 championship but have been unsuccessful. Malaysia dropped out after the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix and Vietnam was postponed in 2020 during COVID-19. Singapore is currently the only F1 host in the region.

An F1 grand prix in Thailand had been previously proposed for 2015 but was banned by the Thai government due to fears of damaging cultural landmarks on the streets of Bangkok.

Why is Imola at risk?

The circuit first debuted on the F1 calendar as the 1980 Italian Grand Prix when it replaced Monza for that year. However, the following year Monza returned but Imola remained due to popularity.

Therefore, between 1981 and 2006 the race at Imola was known as the San Marino Grand Prix. The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix returned with a new name in 2020 amid the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting F1 calendar crisis.

Imola’s return was intended to be temporary during COVID-19 but continued into 2021 due to continued complications from the outbreak. Imola then signed an F1 contract until the end of 2025. However, the 2023 race was cancelled due to heavy rain and flooding in the region.

According to Autosport, Domenicali spoke in a recent Wall Street analysts call and stated there was no current motivation to expand the Formula 1 calendar. This year’s calendar features the highest number of F1 races in one year, with 24 on the schedule.

Therefore, Domenicali recently told the Italian media that there may be some tough choices ahead regarding the calendar. He said:

“We are seeing a lot of interest from a lot of countries in Formula 1, and this obviously represents an opportunity for development. At the same time, it puts us under an obligation to make choices in terms of the calendar.”

While many viewers love the old-school Imola circuit with its tight twists and turns, others may find it boring due to the Monaco-esque difficulties of overtaking.

Unfortunately, yesterday’s 2024 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix fell short of impressing fans. Despite an entertaining final 10 laps courtesy of Lando Norris gaining on Max Verstappen, the previous 53 laps lacked racing action and overtakes. The top three on the starting grid were the same three drivers that stepped on the podium, in the same order they began the race.

Featured Image Credit: @Thavisin on Twitter

  1. I hope it does. The Imola race was frigging boring as hell.

    I know that many of Hamilton’s so-called fans have turned their back on him because he’s not winning, but even when he was, he didn’t have things all his own way and there was usually at least one team challenging him and running extremely closely to him. Now, it’s a yawn-fest. If Verstappen has the lead, barring technical issues, he will hang on to it.
    At least with a new venue, everyone is starting on the same footing (hopefully it’ll have plenty of overtaking spots).

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