Vietnam Grand Prix is the first new race under Liberty Media’s ownership of F1

Formula One has announced a new race for the 2020 F1 season that will be held, for the very first time, in Vietnam. The 3.5-mile long circuit will run partly on a race track and on the streets of the country’s capital city of Hanoi. The race will take place in April 2020, and it’s the first new race to be announced since American owners Liberty Media bought Formula in 2016.

This may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but Vietnam has been on Formula One’s radar for a long time, well before Liberty Media bought the series back in 2016.

For those who don’t know, the Vietnamese government actually approached former F1 supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, about hosting a race in Ho Chi Minh City.

Those plans fell through, in part because of local laws at that time preventing people from betting on sports. According to Forbes, those laws have been relaxed, specifically for those who earn more than $440 per month. It’s not a coincidence that Vietnam’s first race track opened shortly after the country softened its stance on sports betting.

Ecclestone himself wasn’t a big fan of putting a race in Vietnam, largely because he didn’t think that the country had enough of a racing history to attract fans. While that may true in some respects, Ecclestone’s out of the picture now. Since acquiring the series two years ago, Liberty Media has taken a more aggressive approach in promoting the sport in Asia in an effort to reach “new audiences” in other parts of the world.

Formula 1 Unveils Track for 2020 Vietnam GP
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That approach was the driving force that ultimately led to the creation of the Vietnamese Grand Prix. It certainly helps that even if interest in the sport in Vietnam isn’t anywhere on the level that it is in Europe — a tweet from FormulaMoney indicated that “as of 2016, less than 75% of the country’s TV households were able to watch the sport” — the country’s rising economy was a fruit that was too good to not get plucked from the tree.

And so, here we are.

The 2020 Vietnamese Grand Prix has the green light, becoming the newest race in the long and rich history of Formula One.

The track itself looks impressive, at least based on renderings released by Formula One earlier this week. It combines existing roads in the city of Hanoi with sections that will have to be paved for the race itself.

Formula 1 Unveils Track for 2020 Vietnam GP
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The design of the course is interesting in its own right, too. At 3.5 miles, the course is one of the longest ones in the 2020 F1 calendar, though far from the longest. That distinction still belongs to the 4.35-mile Spa Francorchamps. The track does have a 0.93-mile long straight, which would make it the longest straight in the current Formula One calendar, beating out the 0.69-mile straight in the Shanghai International Circuit.

The overall composition of the track has a hybrid layout to it, one that takes inspiration from other racetracks in the world.

Turns 1 and 2, for example, are straight out of the opening sequence at the Nurburgring. Those who know the layout of the Monaco Grand Prix will also recognize Turns 12 through 15 in the new Vietnam race course. Apparently, that section was inspired by Monaco’s own famous street circuit, specifically from Turn 1 to the run up the hill to Massenet. Another identified “action zone” is the section that makes up Turns 16 to 19, which was inspired by the Essess at Japan’s legendary Suzuka race track.

Formula 1 Unveils Track for 2020 Vietnam GP
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Overall, the race circuit offers everything you want in a race. It has slow-speed hairpins. It has slow- to medium-speed corner combinations that will require technical skills from F1 drivers. It even has high-speed messes, flat-out corners, and the aforementioned long straight that can cater to speeds of up to 208 miles per hour through the speed trap.

From a spectator standpoint, the Vietnam Grand Prix should be a welcome addition to the Formula One calendar.

From a driver’s standpoint, it’s a new challenge to overcome. Either way, the race should be a ball of fun when the lights turn green in April 2020.

Source: Formula 1

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