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Singapore Grand Prix extended until 2017

Published on Sep 22, 2012 7:25 PM
McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button of Britain takes off from the pit car during the second practice session of Singapore's Formula One night race on Sept 21, 2012. The Singapore Grand Prix, the only night race on the Formula One calendar, will continue for another five years, until 2017. -- PHOTO: AFP

After months of gridlock, Singapore has finally signed a new Formula One (F1) deal that will give the country more bang for its buck.

The sport's only true night race will carry on until at least 2017 as part of a new five-year contract that was sealed on Saturday.

The fate of the Singapore Grand Prix had been hanging in the balance for nearly a year as the Government and race promoters Singapore GP haggled over the reported $50 million licence fee they pay rights holder Formula One Administration (FOA) each edition.

The contract terms remain confidential. "A gentleman should never speak about money and last night!" declared Mr Bernie Ecclestone, the British billionaire who runs F1.

The cost of organising each race has been about $150 million, with the Government co-funding 60 per cent of approved costs.

But Second Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran made it clear that the cost will go down by around 15 to 20 per cent. This will be done by making the most of existing infrastructure, fine-tuning the way the race is organised and after "revised terms" were agreed with Singapore GP and FOA.

"The negotiations have taken some time because all parties had very specific objectives and wanted to arrive at a mutually beneficial outcome," said Mr Iswaran at a joint press conference with Mr Ecclestone yesterday. "Our view is that F1 has been good for Singapore... Equally, we believe that Singapore has also been good for F1."

Figures may not have been given, but it was clear that Singapore drove a much harder bargain this year.

"The most important thing I was trying to explain to the minister is that we don't race for free," quipped Mr Ecclestone. Mr Iswaran responded: "Which, as you can imagine, I found hard to accept."