Vietnam on Wednesday launched construction of a race circuit in capital Hanoi, where the Southeast Asian nation will host its first Formula One race next year.
The Vietnamese Grand Prix scheduled for April 2020 is the latest street race on the F1 calendar, along with Monaco, Singapore and Azerbaijan. It is the first new event to be added to the F1 calendar since Liberty Media completed its takeover at the start of 2017.
The 5.565-km (3.4 miles) circuit in the west of Hanoi is scheduled to be completed by March next year, Vietnamese Grand Prix parent Vingroup said in a statement. It is located 12km west of the city centre, near the My Dinh National Stadium. Although primarily a street circuit, it will have purpose-built sections and a newly constructed pit and paddock complex.
The circuit is described as a "unique hybrid layout" with "a real desire to steer away from humdrum 90-degree road-junction type corners and foster a layout that facilitates wheel-to-wheel racing while retaining a closed-in street feel that makes city race tracks so demanding for drivers".
A layout of the Hermann Tilke-designed track was published by Formula One, which said the opening corners are based on Turns 1 and 2 at the Nurburgring while other sections take inspiration from Monaco, Suzuka and Malaysia's Sepang circuit. There is also a 1.5km straight, which will see cars top out at 335km/h (208 mph) before a heavy braking zone.
While the country does not have much of a motorsports tradition, sporting events or competitions in which the national team does even marginally well are widely watched and passionately celebrated.
"This major event will give to Vietnam -- and particularly its capital -- an international exposure," FIA President Jean Todt said at a ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the circuit.
F1 is exploring several other opportunities for new races.
A Miami Grand Prix looked set to be on the 2019 calendar after plans to host a race were approved by the city commission, but local issues have delayed it until at least 2020. With the rise of Max Verstappen, the championship also looks set to return to the Netherlands, although a proposed Dutch Grand Prix still needs to secure funding from the government despite Zandvoort circuit bosses having signed a letter of intent with F1 management in December.