Tarawa, Friday: Officials responsible for the construction of a state-of-the-art Formula One facility in the Pacific republic of Kiribati have dismissed sceptical remarks from several commentators, who have questioned the ability of the Oceania state to put on a Grand Prix in 2010.
A scattered group of islands and atolls in an expanse of ocean equivalent in size to the lower forty-eight states of America, Kiribati first gained independence from Britain in 1979, and since then enterprising individuals from the country have often pondered the plausibility of bringing Formula One to the islands.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has reportedly warmly welcomed the latest proposals, which include the construction of a purpose-built motorsport facility on the atoll of Tarawa, where the country’s capital is located. No details of the plans have yet been released, though top F1 track designer Hermann Tilke has already stated: “My fans can be sure that the usual system of slow-to-medium switchback corners will dominate the new circuit. Yes, both of you.”
Most analysts to comment on the ambitious plans, however, have expressed concern about the suitability of Kiribati for hosting a Grand Prix. Three of the islets making up the Tarawa atoll have been submerged due to changing ocean currents since 1999, and with the danger of climate change looming large, it is plausible that the entire atoll could disappear within the next few years.
Plans currently suggest that the Kiribati Grand Prix will take place in March 2010, a time of year when the region is pounded by cyclones. Most commentators have agreed, however, that this is perhaps the only way that the race will be made interesting.
Teams are also reported to have expressed concern about the logistics of transferring all of their transporters and motorhomes to Kiribati in time for a race. FOTA President Luca di Montezemolo reportedly smashed a television set in anger upon hearing the news.