Formula One: Dumping Korea would be 'mistake'

The promoter of the Korean Grand Prix has warned it would be a "huge" mistake to abandon the fledgling race, despite suffering heavy financial losses and struggling to attract spectators.

Professor Park Won-Hwa, drafted in last year to save the grand prix, told AFP in an interview that he had intensive discussions with Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone to seal a revised contract that will run to 2016.

"Mr Ecclestone thinks that it is important to have F1 in Korea as the country is a fast-growing country and benefits from a booming economy and fast-growing economy," said Park.

"It would be a huge strategic mistake to withdraw from this part of the world. The future for the F1 is important and not only the day-to-day running."

The race lost $50 million in the first year, Park, 62, told AFP in an interview ahead of the third edition of the grand prix on Sunday.

"We had to renegotiate with Mr Ecclestone and brought a few ideas and persuaded him that Korea cannot continue the event with such a big financial loss.

"The event has to be sustainable for the benefit of both parties. I showed to Mr Ecclestone all the statistics. It took a long time, and in the end Mr Ecclestone agreed to make another contract."

Organisers had to give away free tickets at the last minute for the inaugural race in 2010 to fill the stands, although they did not do that last year and have reduced prices this time in a bid to pull in the crowds.