Work on Vietnam's new F1 circuit for 2020 began this week.
DPA news agency says FIA president Jean Todt was on hand for the ground breaking ceremony in Hanoi.
He admitted he was surprised when he learned that Vietnam was seriously bidding for F1.
"But I believe in the success of the race in Hanoi," said Todt. "It is fantastic for the development of motor sport in the entire region."
The German broadcaster RTL reports that the Vietnamese government is paying about $60 million per year to host the grand prix. The contract is said to be for ten years.