The Sunday Times says

Roaring towards a digital grand prix

The renewal of the Singapore Grand Prix will keep the vibrancy of the city-state on the global billboard for another four years. Motorsport's glitziest race is more than just a two-hour commercial for Singapore. The economic returns are large enough to justify the cost of $135 million for each edition, with the State bearing 60 per cent of this.

A perennial question is how to get more bang for the buck. Specifically, how can the Singapore race draw more people and enlarge its fan base? Its heady mix of street racing under the stars, C-Suite parties in corporate boxes and crowd-pleasing A-list acts at the Padang has much going for it. But can the returns on investment be improved?

The Internet of Things could be harnessed to deepen the trackside experience, especially useful for a city circuit which lacks sufficient vantage points. Fans would lap up views from cameras mounted at strategic spots, like drivers' helmets, which are live-streamed to mobile phones and combined with real-time analytic data and fans' live comments about computer predictions.

Looking ahead, one observer said "it is not that far-fetched to imagine that one day, F1 fans will be able to experience a driver's perspective of the race using virtual reality headsets… (and) even be able to drive in an e-racing game alongside real drivers". Then, a parallel e-sport event could be organised to allow a tournament's leading gamers to race "live" with the cars on the track - one way of reaching out to younger audiences and at the same time multiplying the benefits of F1's presence in the city.

Together with the greater use of social media to build the Singapore race's following in the region, digitalisation could be a distinguishing feature of F1's desire to make greater inroads into Asia's markets. Singapore could help lead the way by leveraging its own efforts to develop digital competencies and build a throbbing digital economy.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 24, 2017, with the headline 'Roaring towards a digital grand prix'. Subscribe