F1 attendance this year set to exceed 2019's in strong comeback for S'pore race: Iswaran

Transport Minister S. Iswaran looking at a display of Mighty AllStars vinyl collectibles at the West Coast Swing & Race On Festival yesterday. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - This year’s Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, returning after a pandemic-induced two-year break, is set to see its highest attendance since the race began in 2008, with ticket sales surpassing those in 2019.

Transport Minister S. Iswaran gave this update on Saturday (Aug 27), saying this was a clear sign of interest and demand in such events.

Preparations for the night race, which takes place around Marina Bay, were going smoothly, he said.

The race was last staged in 2019, and drew a three-day total of 268,000 spectators, the second-highest after the 300,000 who attended the inaugural race in 2008.

Mr Iswaran also said that the demand for tickets, both internationally and locally, signalled a strong comeback for Singapore.

“It’s a very clear sign that Singapore is back strong, ready to host world-class events, which attract both international visitors as well as locals,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters at a National Day event for residents of West Coast GRC. Also at the event were his fellow GRC MPs Ang Wei Neng, Foo Mee Har and Desmond Lee, the Minister for National Development.

Around 25 Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) events are taking place around the time of the F1 race, including heavy hitters such as the FHA-Food & Beverage (Sept 5-8), one of Singapore’s largest trade shows.

The Singapore Tourism Board has said the number of events timed to coincide with the F1 race is similar to pre-Covid-19 levels, with close to 90,000 delegates expected to attend them.

The 2022 race will be the first since Singapore announced in January a new seven-year deal to continue hosting the F1 race here.

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A check by The Straits Times on Saturday showed that tickets for race day, on Oct 2 of the race weekend, were mostly sold out, including those for the pit grandstand, which overlooks the circuit’s starting grid costing $988 each. 

Some hotels near the street circuit area such as The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, had said earlier this month that their rooms are booked out for the race or have reported high occupancy rates.

Mr Iswaran said: “We’ve also seen the broader ecosystem mobilise, as always, in support of the event. Usually, we have about 30,000 people involved as contractors as various service staff and so on... and this year is no exception.”

He added: “On the whole, it’s going well. They in fact started a bit earlier this year, precisely because we’re coming out of a pandemic.

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He also said even though manpower is tight across many sectors, hotels have been able to hire sufficient manpower to meet the elevated demand for their services over the race weekend.

He added that community events involving Singaporeans in the heartland are an important part of the event’s outreach.    

He said: “The objective is to bring the buzz, excitement and the experience of F1 to all parts of Singapore, including our heartland.

“There’s the Singapore Grand Prix roving truck with simulators that has been going around.”

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