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Honda Thanks Day at Vietnam's Hanoi circuit

Honda 'inaugurates' Hanoi circuit, but prospects are not good

7 January at 12:17
Last update 7 January at 15:32

To celebrate the New Year, Honda organised a special Thanksgiving Day event at the end of 2022 at the Hanoi circuit in Vietnam. Pictures show cars and motorbikes parading past incomplete pits on a track bordered by temporary guard rails. Only three years ago, the Vietnamese track was ready to host Formula 1, but until a few days ago it had never hosted any events and is currently in a state of absolute disrepair.

The track was designed by Hermann Tilke's studio taking inspiration from some of the most exciting and popular circuits already on the Formula 1 calendar. It also included a city section, putting it in the groove of the new generation of fast city circuits, such as Baku. Hanoi had been Liberty Media's first major choice for expansion into new markets, before it focused heavily on the United States and the Middle East.

Rapid decline

The Vietnamese GP was supposed to make its debut on the Formula 1 calendar on 5 April 2020. However, we all know what happened in the spring of that year, and how the championship only started in a reduced form from the Austrian GP. Vietnam thus thought it would only have to wait one more year to finally welcome F1, but in August 2020 Nguyen Duc Chung, the mayor of Hanoi and the major promoter of the Vietnam GP, was arrested on corruption charges. Due to the imprisonment of the key man in the GP organisation, interest in hosting the race falls on deaf ears and the Hanoi stage does not appear on the next calendar, nor in 2022 and 2023.

The circuit is currently in a state of serious disrepair and has no possibility of hosting any race. The asphalt of the straights is being used by cyclists training for sprints, while in other parts of the circuit, civil vehicles circulate quietly. There are even those who manage to enter with the idea of doing a full lap to experience the thrill of driving on a Formula 1 circuit.

Possibility of a comeback?

Since the arrest of Nguyen Duc Chung, no one has picked up the baton of the former mayor of Hanoi or committed themselves to trying to make the landing of Formula 1 in Vietnam possible. The current condition of the circuit would require a huge renovation process with very high costs, if only to be able to propose to Liberty Media. Moreover, even if we wanted to bring the track back to life, it would be difficult to find a place in the current crowded calendar.

It, therefore seems very likely that we will never see Formula 1 again at the Hanoi circuit. Actually, with a little cheating, there is a way (albeit a virtual one). In the official video game of the 2020 season, developed before the outbreak of the pandemic, the Formula 1 calendar is the original one, which therefore includes the Vietnam GP. Which thus also gains the singular record of being the only Grand Prix to exist only on PlayStation.