the port at Patras

Patras - photo by Jim Brozovsky

The Greek government has announced plans to release €30 million for the building of a new Formula One standard circuit near to the country’s third city of Patras. The move to unblock the funds has been pushed by the country’s Ministry of Development which hopes the benefits to the country’s struggling economy will outweigh the costs: with just the construction itself likely to create many much needed jobs in the flat construction sector in Greece.

The circuit it is hoped will allow the government to secure a Greek Grand Prix although plans have already been submitted for a race at Piraeus, the main port of Athens, which would have been a street circuit similar to Valencia.

It is unknown whether the plans for this Piraeus circuit may have been turned down already leading to the change in plan, which will see a purpose built circuit built in the country; requiring a larger up front cost but lower annual costs to hold a race. The circuit could also be used as a stage in other championships and it would be hoped would help with grassroots motor sport in Greece itself.

The circuit will cost a total of around €95 million, with other money coming from private investment, and development will be overseen by Racetrack Patras SA at the Xalandrista site just on the edge of the Patras urban area.

Motorsport has never been huge in Greece and it is rallying that is the premier motorsport in the country, with a current round of the World Rally Championship taking place here. Greece has never even had a driver in Formula One though and many will argue that similar problems to those in neighbouring Turkey will result: where too few locals attended the race making it unviable long term.

Those fans in Turkey who did get behind the sport though will perhaps come to Greece to watch the race and Greece is also easily accessible from most of Europe including nearby Italy whose fans certainly do like their F1 and may consider a quick trip over the Adriatic.