BANGKOK, Oct 1, 2012 (AFP) - Thailand's tourism and sports minister Monday told AFP he was confident the country would host its first Formula One race in 2014, with talks already at an advanced stage.
"It's unlikely we'll have any problem," Chumpol Silpa-archa said, adding that negotiations with Formula One's governing body, the FIA, were more than halfway through.
But he said the country was still looking for a suitable venue as an existing track in the seaside resort of Pattaya, about an hour's drive from the capital Bangkok, is "not perfect".
"We will discuss the possibilities and will know more in the next few weeks," Chumpol said.
According to the Bangkok Post English-language daily, the race is likely to be held at night as in Singapore, where Thai officials met Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone late last month.
The move would mark a new milestone in F1's drive into Asia, where Singapore, Malaysia, China, South Korea, Japan and India will all host races next year according to the FIA schedule announced on Friday.
Singapore last month extended its grand prix for another five years until 2017 after lengthy haggling for cheaper fees. Singapore held the sport's first night race in 2008, an event that has become a highlight of the season.
High costs have caused friction for several hosts of Formula One, which has expanded aggressively from its traditional European domain.
Formula One driver Mark Webber was greeted by an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 people when he raced a show car through the streets of Bangkok in December 2010 as part of birthday celebrations for the Thai king.
Webber's team is owned by and named after Red Bull, manufacturer of the popular energy drink that originated in Thailand. The outfit has won Formula One's last two drivers' and constructors' championships, in 2010 and 2011.