With the Formula One season well underway and the 2012 edition of the Chinese Grand Prix approaching, the sport in China received a shot in the arm when it was reported that former national kart champion Ma Qing Hua was accepted into HRT's driver development program on Thursday.
Whether he makes it through the rigorous training remains to be seen, but the Shanghai native's step into Formula One could be what the sport needs to raise its profile in China, if he can successfully make it on the team as a driver.
Red Bull Renault claimed their historic first victory yesterday as Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber celebrated on podium in Shanghai GP. A source told us that the Chinese Grand Prix only sold 70 percent of its tickets despite the prices were cut nearly half than the previous year.
"The economic crisis has indeed affected the sport and we felt there's a need to adjust the prices," Jiang Lan(姜澜), general manager of the Juss Event Co Ltd, the organizer, told Qianjiang Evening News(钱江晚报), a Hangzhou-based paper, "Another reason is to help recruit more Chinese F1 fans."
This is actually the second cancellation of the NFL China game this year. The 2008 game, which scheduled for August 9 between New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, was called off by NFL this April, with the reason that they wanted to concentrate their "global resources" on next October's regular season game in London.
NFL China has been concentrating on developing grassroots fans in local colleges by staging various events and also marketing themselves on TV and the Internet. Chinese fans can now watch games on CCTV and Shanghai TV, and a live game is also available once a week on Sina.com, a major Chinese web portal.
CSR told you earlier that China may drop its Grand Prix race in Shanghai after 2010 when the contract with F1 runs out . It seems this may not happen as Leon Sun, general manager of Juss Event Management (上海久事国际赛事管理有限公司), said the previous report was lost in translation.
"We’re doing the assessment. By next year we should be able to give you an answer," said Qiu Weichang (邱伟昌), deputy director of the Shanghai Administration of Sports. "Of course we would like at least to break even. But there are two factors - one is the assessment; the other part is the win-win situation that we can create."
Chinese Grand Prix, hosted at the $450m Shanghai International Circuit since 2004, may see its end in 2010 when the contract with F1 expires.
"We're doing the assessment. By next year we should be able to give you an answer," Qiu Weichang, deputy director of the Shanghai Administration of Sports, told AFP on Thursday when asked about the future of the racing event. Early this month, Shanghai Grand Prix was announced by F1 to be rescheduled to play in April next year, a move, according to Chinese media, is to avoid clash with the ATP Masters Series next October.