The inaugural Korean Grand Prix attracted 168,000 spectators over the three-day event, the race organisers claimed on Friday.
However local media reported significant numbers of tickets were given away for free to boost attendance at the first race at the Korean International Circuit.
The Korea Auto Valley Operation (KAVO) claimed attendance figures of 25,000 for Friday, 63,000 for Saturday and 80,000 for Sunday but did not say how many of those were paying spectators.
A report in the Korea Jonngang Daily claimed:
The local government gave thousands of free passes to university students to make sure the stands were filled. The local government also required its officials to sell tickets to their family and friends.
It’s not unusual for new race venues to give away tickets to stimulate interest but it makes assessing how popular the race actually was rather difficult.
Another newspaper claimed the late-running construction work meant the budget for the track was exceeded by ?óÔÇÜ?®60bn (?é?ú33.4m). A KAVO spokesperson said:
The construction costs have increased over original estimates, but KAVO is currently evaluating by how much. The figures quoted in media reports however are incorrect.
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Image ?é?® KAVO