Singapore wants to drop F1 Grand Prix: Ecclestone
SINGAPORE: Singapore does not want to host an annual Formula One grand prix anymore, F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone told German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, Reuters reported yesterday.
Ecclestone’s comments come amid a significant drop in attendance, with Singapore’s race in September seeing an average of 73,000 spectators in each of the three days, down from 87,000 last year. The inaugural race in 2008 got more than 100,000 spectators daily.
“Look at what we have done for Singapore,” Ecclestone was quoted as saying by Auto Motor und Sport. “Yes, the Grand Prix has cost Singapore a lot of money, but we’ve also given them a lot of money.
“Singapore was suddenly more than just an airport to fly to or from somewhere. Now they believe they have reached their goal and they do not want a Grand Prix anymore,” he said.
Ecclestone, 86, is famous for outspoken media interviews during negotiations. The Briton attended this year’s Singapore Grand Prix amid negotiations on F1’s takeover by US cable TV mogul John Malone’s Liberty Media.
A spokesman for Singapore GP, the event’s organiser in the city-state, said in an email: “We don’t comment on ongoing commercial negotiations.”
Singapore GP is a private company owned by Ong Beng Seng, one of the citystate’s richest men. The government helps with 60% of the cost of the organisation.
Next year’s race will be Singapore’s last if the city-state cannot reach a new deal with F1.
Singapore’s tourist arrivals have been on the rise. In the first eight months of this year, before the F1 race, the number of visitors was up 10.3% from the same period of 2015, at 11.3 million.
The sector is seeing a structural shift away from heavy spenders and towards the emerging middle classes of China, India and Indonesia, analysts say.
Trinh Nguyen, a senior economist for emerging-market Asia at French investment bank Natixis SA in Hong Kong, said the recent drop in F1 attendance may be a sign that the novelty of the event is wearing off, and may also be a reflection of weak regional growth. “It (F1) also comes with costs. Thus, with tourism receipts (from F1) waning – the cost benefit calculus is tipping in the other direction.”
In Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said the F1 Malaysian Grand Prix contract will not be renewed after it expires in 2018, due to poor financial returns, Bernama reported.