This was a 2013 April Fool.
North Korea has surprisingly been announced as the location for a new Grand Prix in 2015.
Despite having absolutely no motor racing history, an appalling human rights record and an internationally condemned nuclear program, both the FIA and F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone have signed a five year contract with the so called ‘Hermit Kingdom’ with the option of another five years after that.
The race is expected to be run at either the beginning of the season (before or after China), or near the end between South Korea and Japan.
Tentatively titled ‘Grand Prix for the People of the DPRK’ the race will be held at night around the streets of the capital Pyongyang and is expected to draw a crowd of over 3 million people.
No official layout of the ‘Kim Il-sung International Motor Racing Circuit’ has been made available, but it is expected to incorporate famous landmarks such as Juche Tower, the Archs of Triumph and Unification, May Day Stadium and the Ryugyong Hotel.
In a press statement Bernie Ecclesteon, 82, said: “I know we already have a race in the South but the two are very different countries. We have races in North and South America, so why not North and South Korea? We just need to check our calendars and decide on the date.”
Uve Bin-ad, newly appointed head of the DPRK Motor Sports Association, told state TV: “The Great Leader (Kim Il-sung) was in negotiations with Mr Ecclestone as far back as the early 1970s with regards to bringing Formula 1 to the People’s Republic. Too our great disappointment the Japanese got the first Grand Prix in Asia (1976 – the race where James Hunt became world champion).”
Mr Uve continued: “Before he passed the Dear Leader (Kim Jong-il) had drawn up several different concept tracks. Some were as lengthy the Nordschleife, some with the potential to be as fast as Monza. But it was the Monaco style street circuit he was most proud of.”
Aware that 2014 could see 21 races, drivers and team bosses were sceptical of yet another Grand Prix being added to an already packed schedule.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principle and Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) chairman said he was “concerned” about the work load the teams would be facing in the future but added that “there is no point in trying to fight it.”
Mercedes driver and 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton tweeted: “You can’t be freakin’ serious?! They’d be fools to hold the race in April.”