HONG KONG, June 18, 2011 (AFP) - Hong Kong is keen on hosting a Formula One race "one day", its industry groups reportedly said Saturday, as the city staged its first F1 exhibition run by world champion constructor Red Bull.
More than 40,000 spectators were expected to turn up to see a Red Bull F1 car run on a 600-metre stretch in central Hong Kong, raising calls for the southern Chinese city to host its own grand prix.
"This is the first step in gaining the support of the people," the city's Automobile Association president Wesley Wan said, according to the South China Morning Post.
"We want to raise the exposure of Formula One by staging this live show, and I hope it will lead to Hong Kong hosting a grand prix race one day."
"My dream is that Hong Kong, like Singapore, Malaysia and China, will be a stop on the grand prix circuit," Wan said, saying the show run would expose the locals to the "noise of Formula One engine and its speed".
Wan said Hong Kong was approached to host an F1 race before the former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, but the offer was turned down.
Wan warned that acquiring a the rights to host a grand prix would be hugely expensive, but said a race would draw many economic benefits, including a large number of tourists."And as far as a street circuit is concerned, if Monte Carlo and Singapore can have it, why can't Hong Kong?" he said.
Singapore has enjoyed great success after reviving the F1 event in 2008, and introduced the popular night race later, boosting the city-state's economy, while Shanghai has struck a deal to continue hosting the race till 2017.
The Hong Kong F1 show run car was to be driven by Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari of Toro Rosso, who finished eighth at the Canadian Grand Prix last week.