Greece is the country that’s been hit the hardest by the debt crisis that has brought a lot of unrest in Europe, threatening even the existence of the Eurozone itself. For the past three years, successive governments have imposed heavy taxes and pay cuts to reduce the country’s debt, an effort that has yielded questionable results.
Yet it looks like a long dream of Greek car and motorsport fans may come true, even amidst the crisis. The Ministry of Development and Transportation has given the green light to begin construction of a Formula 1 track; all it remains for the works to begin is the ratifying of the project by the Greek Parliament.
Constructing a racing track in Greece is something that’s been dragging on for nearly three decades, with many municipalities competing for it, unfortunately for motor racing fans, with no tangible results. This time, however, chances are that it will indeed be built at Halandritsa, 20 km northeast of Patras, the country’s third largest city and port.
The project needs a €94.6 million (US$121.5 million) investment, with €29.92 million coming (US$38.8 million) from government grants and the rest from the Patras Autodrome SA consortium, which has already submitted all the necessary data, such as environmental studies.
If, and that's a big if, since all previous attempts have failed, the project goes ahead, the track will be finished in 36 months and is scheduled to create 497 new jobs.
Of course, building a track that meets Formula 1 standards and actually hosting an F1 race are two different things, especially now that the calendar is full with races and Bernie Ecclestone wants to get rid of some European events to make room for expansion in Eastern markets.
The President of the consortium, Evangelos Floratos, is fully aware of the situation. He acknowledges that securing an F1 race is indeed a difficult task but there are many other international and local motorsport two- and four-wheel championships that can be hosted in the track.
By Andrew Tsaousis