After considerable speculation and a number of unsubstantiated rumours, F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone recently announced officially that Bangkok will be included in the Formula One race calendar for 2015.
The first indication that Asia's City of Angels was under consideration as a venue on the world racing circuit came when the winning Red Bull team drove an F1 car along downtown Rajadamnoen Avenue back in 2010. The exhibition event was part of celebrations for His Majesty the King's birthday and also held to honour the achievements of the late Prince Birabongse Bhanudej, known by most Thai people Prince Bira, who was the nation's first, and so far the only Formula 1 driver.
Over a year after the demonstration test, which drew thousands of spectators, the governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand told the local press that he was working closely with F1 officials to find the best site for a full blown Grand Prix race that would most likely be hosted by Bangkok in 2014.
Ecclestone recently told the Wall Street Journal that the location for such a night race in Bangkok has now been chosen, at the same time announcing that the event would actually take place in 2015.
The official cost of holding an Formula One race is approximately USD 27 million. However in Singapore, which has hosted an event for the last 5 years, the cost has been reported to climb as high as 100 million USD.
The Thai government is expected to cover around 60% of the overall budget for the Bangkok race, with the remainder coming from local companies such as the Thai beer giant Singha, as well as from Red Bull, also a Thai born brand.
Despite the high costs involved, associated businesses benefit considerably from a Formula One race with big spending spectators attending upscale parties, and hotels, retailers enjoying a boost in revenue as tourists flood in to experience the spectacle.
At the F1 Singapore, researchers have suggested that international visitors account for as much as 40 percent of the crowd and economists have been quoted as saying the race generates around 50 million SGD in profit.
Adding another city to the already crammed calendar of Grand Prix races, however, presents a significant challenge to the world Formula One organising body. 20 races are already scheduled for 2013, which is the maximum allowed, but it is likely that some events in the West will be dropped to accommodate a shift to the East, where sponsorship money and interest in the sport are both on the rise.