China may drop money losing F1 after 2010 – official

UPDATE #2 (GMM) Another official of China's annual formula one race has played down suggestions the grand prix in Shanghai might be in doubt beyond 2010.

Qiu Weichang, deputy director of the Shanghai Administration of Sports, said recently an "assessment" is taking place as to whether the current contract will be renewed.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone reacted by vowing to "help" China stay on the calendar.

But Leon Sun, a high ranking official of the Shanghai race's organizers Juss Events, believes the meaning of Qiu's comments about the loss-making and poorly attended grand prix was lost in translation.

"I would say it's likely it will stay after 2010," he clarified to Reuters. "Formula one has only been here for five years.

"We think formula one is a very good product, a very good event for Shanghai city so at least from our company's point of view we want to continue promoting and building the event.

"Research shows there are more and more race fans in China, so I don't think we will say no to the formula one grand prix," he added.

Sun did, however, admit that more "internal discussions" will take place before contract renewal talks with Ecclestone begin.

11/16/08 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone seems keen that China retains its grand prix beyond the looming expiry of its contract.

An official of the loss-making event had said an "assessment" is taking place as to whether Shanghai will continue hosting formula one in 2011.

But Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, said Chinese officials have requested a contract extension be sent.

"We have a contract until 2010 with an option for five years after that," the 78-year-old told the Financial Times.

"We will talk to them about it, and meet up and see how we can help them," he added.

Ecclestone clarified that Qiu Weichang, who made the comments about the dubious future of the Chinese grand prix, works for the race promoter, rather than for the actual decision-making government.

11/14/08 (GMM) Officials of the Chinese grand prix are unsure if they will seek to renew Shanghai's contract to host formula one races beyond 2010.

The metropolis built the bespoke Shanghai International Circuit at a cost of $365 million for its first race in 2004, but ticket sales have been poor.

Qiu Weichang, deputy director of the Shanghai Administration of Sports, suggested a decision about the loss-making event will be taken next year.

"We're doing the assessment. By next year we should be able to give you an answer," he told the AFP news agency.

He did not seem keen to embrace Bernie Ecclestone's push for more night races in Asia.

While admitting that Singapore's inaugural floodlit event in September was interesting, Qui insisted that "we will decide based on our own situation what we're going to do to attract fans".

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