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Friday, October 09, 2009
Red Bull's golden year
There are two Formula One races in our neighbouring countries and each is unique.
The Malaysian Grand Prix is promoted as the World's Hottest Race because of the weather there, and the Singapore Grand Prix is the first night race in Formula One history.
The Singapore Grand Prix takes place in the night for business reason. The timing means that it can be broadcast live at a convenient time for TV audiences in Europe -- the sport's biggest market.
What is the difference between a daytime event and nighttime race?
More or less the same, according to Red Bull driver Mark Webber.
Webber says that one good thing about the Singapore event for competitors is they can sleep more and get up a bit late.
One may think that a night race is cooler. But when I was ther
e along with a group of Thai journalists last month, I felt it was as hot as during the day probably because of the floodlights.
It's a great experience to watch Formula One live. But probably once is enough. Watching it live on TV at home or in a bar may be better.
For those who are not die-hard Formula One fans, I wonder if they would enjoy watching a race in the stadium.
Most spectators see only the cars speeding past them. You know who is leading but you have to watch TV
in the stadium to know what is going on in the whole race.
Having watched the qualifying session a day earlier, a renowned TV commentator in our group, who has attended several Formula One races around the world, decided that he would follow the competition on a big-screen TV at a open-air bar just next to our stands.
After about 20 of 61 laps, I decided to join him at the bar. We could still enjoy the race like we were in the stadium as we could still hear the engines roaring.
Having seen Malaysia and Singapore stage Formula One races, there have been calls for Thailand to try to host one.
Hosting Formula One would certainly help promote Thailand's tourism which has been affected by the political situation.
But it would be costly. We need billions of baht to become a Formula One host. This is not a good idea when the country is still hit by the economic downturn.
Moreover, Formula One is not very popular among Thais and I wonder how many locals would be interested in spending a fortune to watch it.
The cheapest ticket for the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix was S$38 (about 900 baht) for a one-day walkabout pass for Friday's practice session.
The most expensive one was a pit grandstand ticket for S$1,488 (about 35,000 baht).
In fact, Thailand was going to host a Grand Prix on Ratchadamnoen Avenue in 1940s after Prince Bira won a race in Europe. But the race was cancelled due to World War II.
Although there is yet a Formula One race here, there is Thailand's interest in Formula One -- Red Bull Racing are owned by a Thai family.
Saravoot Yoovidhya, managing director of Red Bull Beverage Co, says his family holds a 51% stake in Red Bull Racing.
Red Bull Beverage Co is manufacturer of Red Bull (Krating
Daeng) energy drink. Its founder and president Chaleo Yoovidhya is currently the wealthiest Thai, according to Forbes magazine.
Red Bull Racing have been enjoying their best-ever season. They are third in the constructors championship and their young star Sebastian Vettel is third in the drivers standings.
The German, who has won three races this years, are still in contention to win the championship although his chances are slim with only two races left.
This is probably Red Bull's best year in sports. Apart from Red Bull Racing's fine performance in Formula One, several athletes and teams sponsored by the firm are successful.
Muang Thong United football club are leading the Thai Premier League with only two matches to go. Second-placed Chonburi FC are the only team with a realistic chance of overtaking them. Both are sponsored by Krating Daeng.
Thailand currently has three world boxing champions and all are sponsored by the energy drink -- newly crowned WBA super-bantamweight king Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, WBA flyweight title-holder Denkaosan Kratingdaenggym (Kaovichit) and WBC strawweight champ Oledong Kratingdaenggym (Sithsamerchai).
According to Chinese and Thai Zodiac, this is the year of the ox and the ox (cow or bull) may bring auspiciousness to Red Bull.
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