The 2010 Chinese Grand Prix is 100 days away but ticket sales have not yet begun for the event.
It’s the earliest round of the championship which tickets aren’t on sale for. One ticket seller told me tickets for the Chinese event are “always late”. This is especially problematic for people outside China wishing to go to the race who have to apply for a Visa.
There are a few online sellers claiming to have tickets available but they don’t seem to allow you to pick where you sit – making you wonder whether they’ve got official details on ticket sales yet.
Poor attendance has dogged the Chinese Grand Prix in recent years. The race organisers have stopped trying to sell tickets for the massive grandstand alongside turns 12 and 13, turning it into an advertising hoarding instead.
There have also been reports of people being brought to the circuit just to fill seats and make it appear more full, something which also happened at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Tickets have also not yet become available for another poorly-attended event, the Turkish Grand Prix.
It’s hardly surprising that the future of both events is in doubt. The original seven-year contract for the Shanghai circuit to hold the Chinese round of the championship expires after this year’s race and no new contract has been announced yet.
The Istanbul race is in a similar situation, with its seven-year deal set to run out after next year’s race.
The two races have much in common. Both are held at purpose-built facilities constructed at huge costs using government money – but both lie some way outside of the cities their tracks are named after (I can vouch from experience).
China is one of the fastest-growing markets for passenger car sales in the world – 1.04m were sold last November as the government reduced taxes on car purchases.
The same isn’t true of Turkey, which claimed a race-day attendance of just 32,000 last year – less than half the number of people who attended Friday practice at Silverstone.
Demand for these races may not be high, but by not offering ticket sales as early as possible and allowing fans the maximum time to make their travel arrangements, the race organisers are missing out on potential sales.
Planning to go to the 2010 Chinese or Turkish Grands Prix? Swap notes with other fans who are going here:
Read more: 2010 F1 calendar
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