Formula One: Will having concerts be out of tune in a pandemic?

US singer-songwriter Gwen Stefani performing at the Singapore Grand Prix in 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - To rock or not to rock at the Singapore Grand Prix?

That is the question for many, after news on Thursday (Jan 27) that the event will return after a two-year, Covid-19-induced hiatus, with some as excited about the popular concerts that are a quintessential part of the Grand Prix as they are about the high-octane races.

Musical acts like Muse, Gwen Stefani, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ariana Grande, Bon Jovi and Dua Lipa were among the superstars that have thrilled audiences of up to 60,000 at the Padang.

While Mr James Walton, the sports business group leader for Deloitte South-east Asia, is expecting the Singapore Grand Prix experience to be less "crowded and cramped as in previous years" as a whole, he is confident the concerts and other fringe events will take place.

"Formula One will be planning this… (and) looking at the optimal capacity possible while still allowing for safe distancing measures," he said.

CIMB Private Banking economist Song Seng Wun is less sure.

While he said he hopes and thinks that the concerts will "probably be seated (and) scaled down", he added that he could see a situation where one might not be held at all for this year.

"It is a call that has to be made by the healthcare experts," he said.

"But even if we don't have the (concerts and fringe events), I think it is a small and encouraging step forward for the F1 to be here at all."

D. Mohan, a 32-year-old Singaporean who attended the last two F1 concerts in 2018 and 2019, said: "I hope the authorities will be able to ease measures such that by the time the (Singapore Grand Prix) takes place, the concerts can still have a large number of vaccinated spectators.

"After all, the atmosphere at the performances is what makes them so enjoyable."

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