Thailand’s Hopes of an F1 Race and Driver
While it may be the dreams of Thai Formula One race fans to see a race come to Thailand, a boss at the Singha Corporation has stated that his wish is to have a Thai driver in the sport. The strategic partnership and event manager for Singha, Voravudh Bhirombhaki, believes that having a Thai driver in such a popular sport would bestow a great deal of pride in the country. At the Singapore Grand Prix two weeks ago, he said that although time and large investment was needed, if it resulted in a Thai driver in F1, it would be worth it.
The Thai-Norwegian driver Sandy Stuvik, who is currently competing in the Formula Renault Euro Cup 2011, is one of his top hopes after a maiden victory in his debut season last year in the Asian Formula Renault Series. Stuvik recently signed a sponsorship deal with the Singha Corporation and spokesman Voravudh believes that while he is undoubtedly talented, another four years are necessary for him to gain experience.
Another driver being sponsored by Singha is Tin Sritrai, who is currently competing in the Formula Pilota China Series. Apart from these two high profile drivers, other drivers and local events were also being supported by Singha as they look for new racers. Voravudh, who is a former racer, said that motor sport in Thailand benefits from an annual investment of more than 100 million baht and added that in Thailand, motor racing has shown a tremendous increase in popularity.
Another team to benefit from Singha’s support for the last three years is Red Bull Racing. The partnership has been so successful that the drivers and constructors titles were both won by the Thai owned team last year. The Team of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are likely to bring home the constructors title again this year, while Vettel has become the youngest ever two times world champion by gaining the points necessary in the Japanese Grand Prix.
The contract is due to end this year, but Voravudh was confident in a renewal saying that apart from a few details to finalise, he has no doubt that the partnership will continue. The Singapore Grand Prix was especially pleasing for Voravudh as he watched Vettel win his ninth race of the year and team mate Webber come in third.
When asked about the possibility of Singha Corporation purchasing a Formula One team, Voravudh said that despite having the financial capability to do so, it might not be such a good idea as their main aim was to develop Thai racers to reach F1 standard.
Thailand has the potential to stage a Formula One race according to former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij, but hard work was needed to accomplish it. The president of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Akrapol Sorasuchart, said that the reputation of Thailand would be greatly enhanced and the income generated by tourists would be enormous if a race was held here.