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Greece 'Unblocks' €30m To Build Formula One Circuit

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PATRAS
F1 coming soon to a Greek port? | Alamy

As the birthplace of the Olympics, Greece deserves its high ranking in the pantheon of sporting achievements but in the current austere times the idea of hosting a Formula One race must rank low down the government's list of priorities.

However, the Greek government has just announced that it is 'unblocking' a subsidy of €28.8 million for the constructtion of a race track that will be of sufficient quality to stage an F1 grand prix, Bloomberg reported.

The track will be built in Xalandritsa near the western port of Patras and will cost more than €94m, according to a statement from the Ministry of Development.

Greece is not an unknown quantity in world motorsport; the Acropolis Rally is regarded as one of the classic events on the World Rally Championship. But, its F1 record is not so strong: drivers - nil; teams - nil; manufacturers - nil; grands prix held - nil.

Of course, other countries - Bahrain, Singapore, China, for example - had little or no relation with F1 before they got to stage a grand prix but what they did have is oodles of cash - and that is where Greece is sadly lacking now and for the foreseeable future, even with Germany pumping the euros through.

Not only does Greece need to pay for the construction of the circuit, the country will also have to find the millions to pay Bernie Ecclestone for the rights to hold a grand prix. And they don't come cheap as a number of well-established F1 circuits have discovered, including Spa, Nurburgring, Magny Cours. Once regarded as shoe-ins these circuits have struggled to raise the finances needed to stage GPs.