Greek motorsport chief hits back at criticism of circuit plan

Greece’s Ministry of Development last month confirmed it had unblocked a European funding subsidy of Eur29.46 million for the construction of an international-standard racetrack that could be utilised for an F1 race. Fifteen per cent of the subsidy will be covered by the Greek government with parliament set to vote on whether to approve the move on November 15.

The track will be built in Chalandritsa near the western port city of Patras and the Ministry has projected that it will cost a total of Eur94.6 million, 70% of which is to be funded by private investment company Racetrack Patras. “Critics in the foreign media believe that the state will subsidise the circuit running cost, this is a false idea,” Evangelos Floratos, who heads Racetrack Patras, told Reuters.

Floratos hopes that the circuit can become a testing facility for F1 teams while it awaits a potential opportunity to join the sport’s calendar. However, it will be designed for use year-round as well as attracting motorcycling and go-kart events. “This project belongs to the private sector, it does not expect state funding for its operational costs,” said Floratos. “It is also wrongly assumed that we are aiming at organising a Formula One race, which is an event often subsidised by the national government. This is not our primary goal. Let’s be clear about this, we are not prepared to pay to be added to the calendar at this point. It is something we will think about at a later date if and when someone – in government or the private sector – wishes to subsidise it.”

While a previous effort to develop a F1 circuit near Athens failed, the fact remains that Greece has little ties to the sport with a Greek driver having never competed in the championship. However, Floratos added: “The difference between this circuit near Patras and other past proposals is the maturity of the project. We have the ownership of the land, all the necessary approvals and most importantly we have investors who will invest the money and manage the circuit once it is ready to operate. This is a project designed to benefit, not burden the country’s citizens.”