Grand Prix Business Diary: Korea

The backdrop to round 16 of this year's Formula One world championship was hardly scenic, but it may have marked a significant moment in the sport's development in the USA.

Sunday's race was the third Korean Grand Prix and it is fair to say the event has been a touch unloved so far. Once memorably compared to hosting the British Grand Prix in Aberdeen, the shipping town of Mokpo in the south of the country is certainly an unlikely venue for a major international sporting event. Formula One's uncertainty about the Korea is only matched, though, by Korea's uncertainty about Formula One. The race, which is contracted to run until 2016, is no financial success but race organiser Park Jong-moon insists it remains “worthwhile” for the country. “Even the 1988 Seoul Olympics was a money-losing event,” he said before this year's race, [but] it is worthwhile, considering other effects that were far greater than profit.”

No need for Speed as NBC steps in

Speed, long-time broadcasters of Formula One in the US, confirmed on Friday that it has been outbid for the rights from next year. A statement from the Fox-owned broadcaster, which has provided critically-acclaimed coverage for 17 years, said: “It's disappointing to learn that Formula One has elected to move forward with a different media partner.” On Sunday 14th October NBC Sports Group confirmed its acquisition of the exclusive US broadcast rights to Formula One on a four-year basis. With two races in the US next season (assuming New Jersey gets its act together) and the promise of more extensive coverage across the States, Formula One would appear to have its best opportunity yet to break its trickiest market. On a related televisual note, this column can highly recommend British TV anchorman Steve Rider's new memoir, My Chequered Career, which recounts on his years of presenting Formula One for the BBC and ITV.

Formula One's shoe-maker

Alpinestars, which kits out a good percentage of the Formula One grid, launched a novel contest in the days leading up to the Korean Grand Prix. In partnership with the Sahara Force India team it is inviting fans to design a racing shoe for driver Nico Hulkenberg, with the winning design to be incorporated into a pair of boots for the German at the United States Grand Prix in November. “Alpinestars has a longstanding technical partnership with Sahara Force India,” Jeremy Appleton from Alpinestars communications department told SportsPro, “and this competition is an opportunity to showcase the continuous development and performance testing we do with Formula One drivers.” It's a technical sport at every level, from head to toe.

Credit where credit's due

There is something to be admired about the fact that McLaren have successfully argued that the UK£32 million fine, handed to the team for its part in the Formula One espionage scandal of 2007, is tax deductable. Despite objections from British tax authorities, Judge Chales Hellier said last week: “This cost was not one imposed on McLaren, but one which it was contractually obliged to pay under contractual obligations undertaken for the purposes of its trade.”

The public fine handed to the team by the FIA, world motorsport's governing body, was actually US$100 million (around UK£66 million) but for fans of precise detail the exact payable portion of the fine was UK£32,313,341 as the total figure included prize money the team would otherwise have received.


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