With the Australian Grand Prix 2019 and Formula One season just one week away from starting, it’s time to cast the spotlight on the much-rumoured F1 track that has been discussed for Greece. Over the years, there has been much speculation and comments regarding whether or not the country would move forward with the creation of a race track for Greece and where it should take place.

The first option is Tripoli, in the central Peloponnese. Some investors from nearby Patra had shown interest in funding the venture back in the late Nineties. However, after a few TV appearances, they were out of sight, with the project never moving forward.

The next location to be brought up as a potential Grand Prix host was Elliniko, a suburb of Athens. After the Athens Olympics in 2004 and the relocation of the airport, the grounds of the old airstrip were left unused and many rumours began to surface regarding what its future use would be. Whispers were heard regarding the creation of a park with the inclusion of a Formula One track. In fact, it was to be designed based on those of Melbourne and Montreal. However, back in August of 2005, former minister of the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works, Giorgos Souflias, put a swift end to those scenarios, pointing out that he would not be against the creation of an F1 track but it would need to be created outside of the residential zone and with proper infrastructure.

In 2007, the Hellenic Fan Club of Cars and Tours (ELPA) got as far as to receive a signed order by the then President of the Republic himself, Karolos Papoulias, regarding the requirements for the creation of an F1 track in the city of Orchomenos in Boeotia. All the groundwork had been completed and it was calculated that around 60-80 milion euros would be necessary for the track to be completed within two years. In fact, the relevant government board had agreed to pass on 1,400 acres worth of land to a company that was comprised of the ELPA, the Municipality of Orchomenos and the prefecture and was founded solely with the purpose of creating the track. What happened to this venture remains unknown, as any further news has yet to surface, but it is apparent that things did not progress as scheduled.

Back in 2012, as Greece was already trying to learn how to live with the new rules that the financial crisis brought along with it, a company under the name of “Autokinhtodromio Patras” (Patra Speedway) appeared seemingly out of nowhere to suggest that they could easily create a Formula One race course within the Chalandritsa area and provide working opportunities for hundreds of people. According to the owner of the company, the groundwork had been laid and the country could have its own Grand Prix within three years time, provided they could be inducted into Parliament and receive 29 million euros worth of public funding. Of course, the project went nowhere as they never received the money that they needed.

But without doubt, the plan that came closest to becoming reality has been the Grand Prix of Drapetsona, an area in the southwestern suburbs of Athens. In 2008, the civil engineer Thanasis Papatheodorou designed the sketches for the race course and after years of planning and capital raising, the company “Dielpis Formula 1” was founded in the hopes of gaining the support of the political world and the attention of the racing world. Their efforts gave fruit, as former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras threw his backing towards the project, according to an interview Papatheodorou gave to CNN, while the then CEO of Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone mentioned that he had taken notice of the plan and wanted to meet with Samaras and the people behind it to see if they had the necessary funding. On 30 May of that same year, the matter progressed so far that the company “Formula One Licensing” patented the name “Formula One Mediterranean Grand Prix.” However, due to the change in government, which led to political and financial instability in Greece, the agreement was never made, and so the nation still remains without a Grand Prix.

It remains unknown if Athens or Greece in general will ever have its own Formula One course. Several attempts have been made and the infrastructure does exist for the creation of a satisfactory racing experience. Perhaps now that the country is beginning to slowly come out of the financial crisis, it would be a good time to for such an investment to take place.