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HomeThailand newsFrom ‘39 with Love: Will the Bangkok Grand Prix finally happen?

From ‘39 with Love: Will the Bangkok Grand Prix finally happen?

In 1939, before the Formula One World Championship was even a thing, Asia’s finest racing driver and Thai royalty Prince Bira had a dream; he planned to hold a grand prix racing event in Bangkok, the capital of Siam. The race was scheduled for December 10, 1939, but the invasion of Poland in September brought the entire world to a halt. Having then raced in the first-ever Formula One grand prix at Silverstone, Prince Bira died in 1985 in Hammersmith. Now, in 2024, his home country is seriously turning his once ambitious dream into reality.

From ‘39 with Love: Will the Bangkok Grand Prix finally happen?

Thailand and Formula One: Missed Opportunities

Since Prince Bira’s 1939 plan, Thailand has multiple times tried to play host to the greatest spectacle in motorsport. Most recently, the Kingdom seriously considered to host a race in sometime around 2013 and 2014, before a coup d’etat killed that dream for another decade.

Turning back to Prince Bira’s plan, the race was going to be held on a 2-mile street circuit around the world-renowned Rattanakosin Island. The race would start in front of the Supreme Court, passing through the headquarters of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Two sharp right turns would then lead the drivers down the Chao Phraya riverside, right by the Grand Palace, before another right turn take them to the Royal Plaza where they take right curve back to the main straight.

PM Srettha’s bid to attract F1

Despite the circumstances surrounding his election to Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin’s experience in the corporate world is a massive plus when it comes to brining Formula One to Thailand. His month-long world-wide excursion in March 2024 included a trip to Paris where he discussed the possibility of holding a Formula One grand prix  in Bangkok and a Formula E e-Prix Chiang Mai, the latter is supposedly happening in May 2025.

In April 2024, PM Srettha welcomes the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Formula One Group, Stefano Domenicalli, to the Government House in Bangkok. Both parties discussed such a possibility again, but to a much more bigger extent and serious degree. The PM stressed on the importance these events have on the local economy and Thailand’s projection of soft power.

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When, where, how?

A few days after Domenicalli’s visit, Dr. Kongsak Yotmani, Governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand, provided more details on the logistics and management of the grand prix. He stated that Thailand had been doing its homework on this for a few years and concluded that a Thai/Bangkok Grand Prix would benefit Thailand in all major aspects. Dr Kongsak also expressed confidence that the race itself would have little pollution to the communities around the circuit, especially in terms of noise.

“After hearing about Formula One’s policies in regard to the environment and noise pollution, I feel much more relieved. We will no longer witness a loud Formula One race,” Dr Kongsak said. This came as a surprise as most fans would prefer the screaming V8s or V10s to make a return after the new engine regulations in 2026.

Speaking of time, Dr Kongsak hinted that the first Thai Grand Prix will be held in 2027 or 2028, as the local authorities need around three to four years to study relevant legal and technical areas. The race will be held at night, and the primary candidate for the circuit is around the Rattanakosin Island, just as Prince Bira had dreamed eight decades prior to this. However, Dr Kongsak did mention that the Thai authorities submitted three other candidates than the Island; two are in Bangkok and the other is in the provinces.

Other possible locations for a circuit

  • Buriram International Circuit in Buriram Province: The circuit is currently home to the Thai motorcycle grand prix and has been graded from the FIA before. The major disadvantage is the lack of infrastructure for teams and supporters in Buriram itself.
  • Bangsaen Street Circuit in Pattaya City, Chon Buri Province: The Bangsaen Grand Prix is Thailand’s biggest domestic motorsport event. The location is a lot more tourist-friendly, but the roads are possibly too narrow for an F1-style pitlane or grand stand.
  • Possibly a street circuit from the Royal Plaza to the Democracy Monument in Bangkok.
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