Formula One: Bernie Ecclestone clarifies comments, says F1 'don't want to lose Singapore'

Part of the illuminated circuit is seen during the third practice session of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix at the Marina Bay circuit on Sept 25, 2010.
Part of the illuminated circuit is seen during the third practice session of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix at the Marina Bay circuit on Sept 25, 2010. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - A day after seemingly sounding the death knell on the Singapore Grand Prix, Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has clarified his comments, saying that F1 wants to keep Singapore on its calendar.

In an exclusive phone interview with The Straits Times on Monday (Nov 21) evening, the F1 supremo said: "F1's stand is to hopefully continue in Singapore. Everybody is happy to be in Singapore and (we) don't want to lose Singapore."

In an interview with German publication Auto Motor Und Sport published on Sunday, he was quoted as saying: "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."

Asked about this, he told ST: "My words were taken in a funny way. What I said was simple - no decision has been taken yet.

"Negotiations are ongoing and will be sorted out shortly... before the end of the year, I'm sure. We want to extend long-term. We'll see what happens."

His comments with the German publication were surprising, given that Ecclestone had previously called Singapore the "crown jewel" of the sport.

The Singapore GP is F1's only full night race, one that has proven a hit with fans and drivers. For example, international television audiences for the race have stayed constant at around 80.7 million, despite the sport's global viewership dropping from 600 million in 2008 to 425 million in 2014.

Drivers like Max Verstappen (Red Bull) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) have also gone on record stating how much they have enjoyed taking on the 23-turn Marina Bay street circuit.

This year's edition was won by current driver championship leader Nico Rosberg of Mercedes.