A senior figure for the Shanghai circuit has announced that the Chinese Grand Prix may not be on the calendar when its contract runs out in 2010, after making heavy losses at the track. They have already ditched their Moto GP race, and to me, this is no surprise. Many of these Asian tracks have the money to build a state-of-the-art racing circuit but just don't have the passionate fans who can afford to attend the race once the circuit has been built. Places such as Bahrain, Malaysia and I suspect Abu Dhabi next year do not have the fan-base to fill up the grandstands, and only have a grand prix because they can afford to pay Bernie many millions of pounds to obtain a race in order to advertise their country.
To me, this is a shame. A shame that other countries such as Canada, USA and Britain (Donington will never be ready on time) have lost or are under threat of losing their races because they are unable to give Bernie any more money to throw on his pile of cash. These countries are able to sell many tickets to come to a grand prix, and with the success of Hamilton recently Silverstone has been making a profit. Even France, the country that gave us motor racing a hundred years ago will be off of the calendar for 2009.
Bernie claims that tracks in Asian countries will allow F1 to expand into new territories, and will give new fans of the sport the chance to see the cars racing. That's all very good, Mr Ecclestone, but that doesn't exactly work when the Chinese and the Malaysians either can't afford or can't be bothered to attend these races, leaving the North Americans who would have gone to a race to start watching NASCAR instead.
I hope you're listening Bernie, because you're losing more fans than you're getting.