Motorsport: Shanghai to keep GP for seven more years

Lewis Hamilton during practice for last year's race at the impressive Shanghai motorsport complex. Photo / Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton during practice for last year's race at the impressive Shanghai motorsport complex. Photo / Getty Images

SHANGHAI - Shanghai has extended its deal to host the Chinese Grand Prix for seven more years, organisers said, reportedly after F1 bosses agreed to charge a reduced rate to host the loss-making race.

The race will be extended until 2017, organisers confirmed, saying they would cut ticket prices and address other problems that have led to its losses and poor attendance.

The Shanghai Daily cited Vice Mayor Zhao Wen as saying the city negotiated a reduced rate for hosting the event with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Administration.

Zhao did not reveal the reduced figure, the report said.

Announcing the extension to the deal, government-owned race organisers Juss Events said in a statement dated Wednesday that Formula One had "effectively promoted Shanghai's influence as an international metropolis".

The Shanghai race was first held in 2004 and has seen attendance drop from a peak of 270,000 spectators in 2005 to 155,000 last year, the report said.

The return of German racing legend Michael Schumacher last year helped sales recover from a low of 120,000 in 2009.

"We've learned that high ticket prices have led to fans staying away and will try to improve the situation in the following years," Shanghai Sports Bureau Deputy Director Chen Yiping was quoted as saying.

The Oriental Sports Daily said ticket prices could be slashed by as much as 45 per cent, without citing any sources.

Last year, general admission grandstand tickets started at 380 yuan (NZ$76).

The report said the government also would keep open a subway line to the race track on the city's northern outskirts to boost spectator numbers for this year's event from April 15-17.

The line was completed last year but authorities shut it down just before last year's event, with officials citing concerns about overcrowding.

The race also has been hampered by poor promotion. The only Formula One advertising campaign in the city's centre last year was for the Singapore Grand Prix.

The race's profile also suffered after Yu Zhifei, the official who brought the race to Shanghai, was jailed for four years in 2008 in a huge corruption crackdown that brought down the city's top official.

- AFP

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