Sin­ga­pore ex­tends ‘Monaco of the East’ grand prix to 2021

The Jakarta Post - - FRONT PAGE - Talek Har­ris

Or­ga­niz­ers of For­mula One’s Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix an­nounced a four-year con­tract ex­ten­sion un­til 2021 on Fri­day, adding that their costs were fall­ing as they find new ef­fi­cien­cies and rev­enue streams.

The an­nounce­ment, pro­long­ing the dis­tinc­tive night race which has been dubbed F1’s “crown jewel” and the “Monaco of the East”, comes af­ter neigh­bor­ing Malaysia de­cided to can­cel its grand prix, cit­ing ris­ing costs.

Sin­ga­pore Min­is­ter for In­dus­try S. Iswaran said the deal took “sev­eral rounds” of ne­go­ti­a­tions with For­mula One’s new own­ers Lib­erty Me­dia, who took over this year.

“The Sin­ga­pore race is clearly a sig­na­ture race [...] it’s also our gate­way into Asia which is im­por­tant for our fu­ture and our growth,” F1 chief Chase Carey told re­porters.

“Sin­ga­pore is truly an iconic race on our sched­ule.”

The Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix, which started in 2008, tra­verses a flood­lit, down­town lay­out which takes in the city-state’s land­marks and gleam­ing sky­scrapers.

Its ex­ten­sion shows Lib­erty is keen to make Sin­ga­pore a cen­ter­piece of its Asian sched­ule, as it tries to build a more co­her­ent cal­en­dar with Asian, Euro­pean and Amer­i­can swings.

How­ever, Lib­erty failed to ex­tend Sin­ga­pore by the usual five years, as the city-state’s au­thor­i­ties re­mained cau­tious about F1’s fu­ture di­rec­tion un­der its new own­ers.

While nei­ther side di­vulged terms of the new deal, Iswaran said Sin­ga­pore’s costs had fallen to S$135 mil­lion (US$100 mil­lion) de­spite in­fla­tion over the last 10 years.

“Our race pro­mot­ers have been able to work with dif­fer­ent par­ties in terms of how they can re­alise op­er­a­tional ef­fi­cien­cies and also find new ways to gen­er­ate some of the rev­enue pos­si­bil­i­ties as well,” he said.

Carey also spoke of “fair value,” a com­ment that hinted at a sweet­ened deal for Sin­ga­pore.

“We think in the next three to four years we can re­ally take For­mula One to a place that is good for all our part­ners and re­ally adds a new level of ex­cite­ment and new di­men­sions to the sport,” he said.

“We think agree­ments should al­ways re­flect on­go­ing fair value be­tween two par­ties and we’re happy to have to build this sport if we want to re­ceive in­creased value over time, to make sure we’re de­liv­er­ing bet­ter and bet­ter events.”

Iswaran said the de­ci­sion by Malaysia, which will hold its last grand prix in two weeks’ time, had no bear­ing on Sin­ga­pore’s move to stay in For­mula One.

He said Sin­ga­pore had not no­ticed any sig­nif­i­cant com­pe­ti­tion from the Malaysian Grand Prix, even af­ter it was moved to an ad­ja­cent slot in the F1 cal­en­dar.

AFP/Wal­lace Woon

Down­town race: Mercedes' Bri­tish driver Lewis Hamil­ton speeds up dur­ing the first qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion of the For­mula One Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix night race on Fri­day.

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