SINGAPORE - Singapore will continue hosting the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix for the next four years, Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran announced on Friday (Sept 15).
Now into its 10th edition, the Singapore Grand Prix is the sport's first night race and has been a successful and unique blend of F1 action, its party atmosphere and business networking opportunities.
"Formula One and Singapore have been good for each other," said Mr Iswaran.
"Over the past decade, the Singapore race has become an iconic and highly-anticipated event on the F1 calendar. It is the first and only night race set on the streets of Marina Bay, with our distinctive skyline and landmarks as the backdrop. From the outset, we had envisioned the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix not just as a sporting event, but also as a lifestyle festival and business event. So the race is complemented by exciting entertainment in the city and also with the circuit. There is an array of conferences, meetings and business networking events.
"In turn, Formula One had helped boost Singapore's image as a vibrant and innovative city. And the race had yielded significant economic benefits."
Mr Iswaran revealed that including this year's race, Singapore had hosted over 450,000 international visitors, who had contributed about $1.4 billion in incremental tourism receipts.
The cost of hosting the race around the Marina Bay Street Circuit was estimated to cost around $150 million each year, although Mr Iswaran said costs had come down by about $15 million a year to $135 million.
"This is noteworthy especially as operational costs, in general, have continued to rise over the past 10 years," the minister added.
The Government will continue to commit 60 per cent and organiser Singapore GP will still foot the rest.
Mr Iswaran also explained that the current extension is over a four-year period, instead of five years for the previous contract signed in 2012, as the Singapore organisers would like to see what is the future direction of the sport after the current Concorde Agreement expires in 2020.
The Concorde Agreement is a contract between motorsports' world governing body FIA, the F1 teams and the Formula One Group (the group of companies that promotes F1) that determines how teams compete in the sport and how television revenue and prize money will be shared.
Ticket sales fell last year to around 73,000 for each of the three days of the race weekend.
In 2015, the average was 87,000 and the highest was 100,000 in 2008 when the first Singapore Grand Prix was hosted.
Since the first race in 2008, four drivers have won the Singapore Grand Prix - Sebastian Vettel (four times), Fernando Alonso (twice), Lewis Hamilton (twice) and Nico Rosberg (once).
Formula One chairman and CEO Chase Carey, who was also present at the announcement at the Pit Building, shared his delight.
He said: "The Singapore Grand Prix is a signature Formula One race and there we are very pleased that it will continue to feature on the calendar for a further four years. The Singapore Grand Prix, the Singapore Tourism Board and the Singapore Government have all done an excellent job of making this an event that involves the whole city."
James Walton, the sports business group leader of Deloitte Singapore and South-east Asia, is in no doubt that Singapore has gained much from hosting what former F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone called the sport's "crown jewel".
"From a sporting point, it showed that Singapore is an economically strong city that can host sports and cultural events well. Teams and tourists have enjoyed the smooth and seamless trips to Singapore. And those tourist receipts will trickle down into retail," he explained.
A major reason for the night race's success has been its unique blend of combining gripping track action, entertainment from headline acts and business networking opportunities in the financial hub.
This formula has worked so well that Carey now wants similar week-long extravaganzas across hosting cities, having held a car parade in London before Silverstone and a post-race party in Milan after the Monza race.
But the local economy also gets a turbo boost, too, when the F1 show rolls into town every September.
Jean Ng, the director for sports in the STB's experience development group, said: "Local businesses such as our small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have also been actively involved in race preparations, such as circuit set-up, ticketing and security services, with about 90 per cent of Singapore Grand Prix's race organisation being sub-contracted annually to these SMEs.
"Over the years, these companies have reaped economic benefits and also built capabilities, gained exposure and established new business opportunities as a result of being involved in race-related work, and some have expanded their business overseas."
One important group of people who are keen to continue revving things up on arguably the toughest circuit on the calendar are the drivers.
Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas said: "I hope that the Singapore GP continues for a long time; it has become part of Formula One. It's a unique event, it's a very nice city for fans to visit and I always enjoy coming here. It's a beautiful-looking race with all the lights in the night, probably the most stunning-looking Grand Prix.
"We like challenges. This track is physically the most demanding race but I wouldn't change anything."