Prospect of Greek grand prix back on the agenda; huge investment needed

By Nikos Roussanoglou

The prospect of a Formula One racing track in the Greek capital, first raised nearly half a century ago, has re-emerged, sparked by comments on the issue from Bernie Ecclestone, president and CEO of the motor racing event.

Ecclestone acknowledged being aware of Greek interest in the establishment of an F1 track, and, as a result, was considering having a meeting arranged with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

The comments, made to CNN last week, coincided with the 83-year-old British business magnate’s trademarking of the “Formula One Mediterranean Grand Prix,” implying the staging of the event at a Mediterranean seaside location. Spain and Italy already host Formula One events but neither has been officially branded as the “Mediterranean” event.

A location in Keratsini-Drapetsona, a rundown area southwest of the capital in need investment and jobs, is being promoted by a team of local entrepreneurs and affiliated racing car groups, founders of a group named Dielpis Formula One. They envisage the development of a 77-hectare expanse in the area.

The project’s financing, which would need to be primarily provided by the private sector, stands as the greatest obstacle, at least for now. Approximately 800 million euros would be needed to develop an F1 track, according to the Dielpis group, while a further 30 to 40 million euros would be required to cover a deal and have the event included on the F1 agenda.

“We will have to find out if they have got the money,” Ecclestone remarked on Greece’s F1 interest.

The newly elected Keratsini-Drapetsona mayor, Hristos Vrettakos, has yet to position himself on the matter.