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The Race That Never Was: The Vietnam Grand Prix

Robert Burns’ famous line ‘the best-laid plans of mice and men go oft’awry’ could be applied to many aspects of Formula One over the years, but it seems most pertinent to the seemingly forever lost Vietnamese Grand Prix.

The race was set to be added to the 2020 schedule, with a £540 million track built in readiness for Asia’s latest F1 outing. But a catalogue of catastrophic events meant that the Vietnam Grand Prix never happened – and there’s no sign that it ever will, either.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

vietnam grand prix f1 abandoned

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Liberty Media have hinted numerous times at expanding F1’s presence in the Asian market.

China, Japan, and Singapore are steadfast on the itinerary, while Malaysia was another stop-off in the past.

There’s a desire for a fourth GP on Asian soil and Vietnam was poised to fill the void, with terms agreed to take F1 to the country in 2020.

There’s a solid fanbase for the sport in the country, which is developing economically thanks to its burgeoning tourism. It has the infrastructure to host a global event and the resources to make it happen.

A pre-existing TV deal in Vietnam also helps to facilitate the sport, while a number of bookmakers – including those listed on this website, such as Bet365 – operate on Vietnamese soil, opening up a huge A-Z of sports and markers for bettors in the country.

The first-ever Vietnam Grand Prix was scheduled for 2020, but had to be delayed. The Hanoi street circuit was constructed for £540 million, using a mix of public roads and purpose-built track, and all appeared to be rosy with the race postponed until 2021.

However, things took a strange turn.

False Start

Vietnamese Flag

In 2012, the Hanoi People’s Committee chairman and city mayor, Nguyễn Đức Chung, was arrested on suspicion of alleged corruption.

The charges had nothing to do with F1 in Vietnam, but even so Chung was one of the most notable supporters of the Grand Prix heading to the country – his reputation, in tatters after he was imprisoned for ten years, tarnished the proposed race to the extent that it has barely been discussed since. The official X feed for the GP hasn’t been updated since 2020.

The Hanoi street circuit sits unused and unloved, with the vast expense required to build it seemingly written off. As the weeds begin to grow at the trackside, there’s no word on how the track will be repurposed.

It has been suggested that Stefano Domenicali has spoken with the current mayor of Hanoi, Tran Sy Thanh, in 2023, although nothing has been reported to suggest that the race will be returning to the schedule any time soon.

Meanwhile, F1 bosses and Liberty Media have already begun planning alternatives for a new Grand Prix on Asian soil. Thailand seems to be the likely destination: Domenicali has met with the country’s prime minister, Srettha Thavisin, with the hope of a street track – similar to that of Las Vegas – being constructed in Bangkok. Red Bull, incidentally, are part-owned by Thai billionaire Chalerm Yoovidhya.

So, F1’s brief dalliance with Vietnam looks to be over; it’s a case of the race that never was.