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