Korean Grand Prix organizers are seeking the help of Bernie Ecclestone to allow them to renegotiate their race contract terms in a bid to keep the event on the calendar.
Amid questions about the future of the Yeongam GP, race promoter Won-Hwa Park has admitted that the event faces financial difficulties because of the huge hosting fee that had been agreed before he arrived in his current role. With a fresh mandate from the South Jeolla provincial government to try and reduce costs, Mr. Park has said that the key factor going forward is in trying to bring down the costs, which include the race hosting fee.
According to local media, the cost for the race this year stands at $81 million, which includes a $55m fee for hosting and television rights. The current deal with Formula One Management, which runs until 2016, includes a 10 percent escalator for hosting rights over its duration. With income from tickets estimated to be around $25 million, the venue is currently loss making unless financial support can be gotten from the national government.
Despite widespread speculation last weekend that the financial situation could mean Korea elects to drop its event off the calendar as early as next year, Park is determined to do what he can to keep the race going.
"We are trying hard, but we need the cooperation of Bernie Ecclestone," Park told AUTOSPORT. We certainly want to continue with this event because it is a big event, even though we have losses.
"We want to give this region momentum by holding this event to help boost its economy and to boost the image, and to change our farming background in this region."
When asked what the situation would be if Ecclestone was unwilling to change the terms of the original deal, Park said: "It is too early for me to say at the moment. He knows perfectly well our current situation, and I hope he is more cooperative."
Speaking about the focus of his efforts since he took over, Park said: "My main focus has been on reducing the costs as much as possible. This is the core issue. Some local people in this region are against the race because of a big financial loss in hosting the race and organizing this event. Those citizens, who have a background as farmers and are normally poor, want to have the funds distributed for other purposes rather than be used for this so-far unpopular event.
"At the same time, I must increase the awareness of motorsport so that people and citizens understand what we are doing. This would be an indirect way to convince the national government. Motor racing is not known here as much as it is in other developed countries."