The haze may have put a dampener on this weekend's Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, but there was good news yesterday as Singapore Airlines (SIA) announced that it had extended the title sponsorship of the event for another two years to 2021.
SIA signed on as the Singapore race's title sponsor in 2014, and has since renewed the deal biennially.
SIA's deal for the first two years was believed to be worth between $10 million and $15 million annually, and reported at $10 million a year for the next two years. The value of the 2018-2019 contract is not known.
Local telecommunications firm Singtel was the title sponsor for the first six editions of the race, with the value of the deal also believed to be between $10 million and $15 million a year.
SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong said: "The Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix is a major event in Singapore's sporting calendar, drawing huge crowds to view the exhilarating night race and associated entertainment line-ups.
"We are pleased to be continuing as title sponsor, and helping to further enhance both sports and tourism for the benefit of Singaporeans and visitors alike."
Formula One chairman and CEO Chase Carey said: "We are very pleased that Singapore Airlines will continue to be the title sponsor for the Singapore Grand Prix till 2021.
"Singapore Airlines has been working closely with Formula One at the Marina Bay Circuit since 2014 and during that time, we have seen brilliant races under the lights of an amazing circuit.
"As one of the premier events on the race calendar, loved by the fans and drivers, it is a perfect fit for us to work alongside the national airline of Singapore. We are looking forward to this year's race that should, if the past 11 years are anything to go by, provide an amazing spectacle and a physically demanding race for the drivers."
This year's race takes place at the Marina Bay Circuit from today to Sunday, with the first practice session set to flag off at 4.30pm today.
British speedster Lewis Hamilton, the reigning world champion for Mercedes, will be chasing a third consecutive victory here and a podium win will take his haul to five, after wins in 2009, 2014, 2017 and last year.
This year's marquee race has been threatened by haze, with Singapore hit this week by the worst air pollution in three years.
Race organisers said that they would be keeping tabs on haze readings and that disposable masks will be available for sale at merchandise booths if the pollution hits certain predetermined levels.
However, it is business as usual for the F1 drivers and teams, who told The Straits Times they are unfazed by the poor air quality and have no issues racing in these conditions.
Last year's race drew more than 263,000 fans - the second-highest attendance after the 300,000 at the inaugural race in 2008 - and similar-size crowds are expected this week. Currently in its 12th edition, the Singapore night race is contracted to run until 2021.