F1 in Singapore

High costs, big returns, but game has changed

Though it is true that the costs of holding the Formula One race in Singapore are massive, the returns are no less significant ("Consider huge costs of F1 race" by Mr Loong Chik Tong, "Has F1's crown jewel lost its lustre?" and "Some businesses see lower gains from race"; all published on Nov 23).

It was only this year that attendance was dismal, compared with that of previous years. This could have been due to fears over the Zika virus and less attractive entertainment on offer, compared with that of previous years.

However, should Singapore renew the F1 deal, we should pay a much lower price than we have paid before. This is because of a paradigm shift in F1 dynamics.

When we first hosted the event in 2008, F1 engines were really loud and impressive, unlike the current set of engines.

Disgruntled fans have bemoaned the lower sound of current engines, compared with the high-pitched scream of their normally aspirated V8 predecessors, for example.

This being the case, the F1 is no longer as attractive as before.

The uncertainty of the slowing global economy means sponsors may not want to spend so much.

This, in turn, will translate into fewer attractions for fans, and a resulting lower attendance. The bleak global economic outlook may also see many fans staying away.

With lower attendance for the event all over the world, not just in Singapore, the price to pay for the renewal of the race must be adjusted accordingly.

Though the costs are massive, the event has brought tangible and intangible returns for Singapore. It has put Singapore on the world stage, with the honour of hosting the first-ever F1 night race.

But, even as continuing to host the race will reap benefits for Singapore, we should not be held to ransom by high costs.

Phillip Tan Fong Lip

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2016, with the headline 'High costs, big returns, but game has changed'. Print Edition | Subscribe