Singapore will not be rushed into extending its contract with Formula One (F1), the Ministry of Trade and Industry said yesterday as negotiations for the sport's only full night race continues.
The Singapore Grand Prix is in doubt for next year's F1 season after being listed as provisional on the 21-race calendar published by governing body International Automobile Federation (FIA) on Monday.
The race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit is approaching the final year of a five-year deal.
Negotiations for an extension began under former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and are continuing under new owners Liberty Media.
"Negotiations for the term renewal for F1 (are) ongoing and a decision has not been reached," a ministry spokesman told The Straits Times in an e-mail. "More details will be shared when ready."
Next year's event calendar had an asterix next to the Shanghai and Singapore dates with a note that said "subject to commercial rights holder confirmation".
Losing two races in Asia on the back of Malaysia's pullout would be a blow to Liberty Media and F1 chief Chase Carey, who have often insisted they want to grow the sport in the continent.
Malaysia announced that their Oct 1 race in Sepang will be the last due to rising costs and low returns.
PROVISIONAL 2018 FORMULA ONE CALENDAR
France (Le Castellet)
United States (Austin)
Mexico (Mexico City)
Brazil (Sao Paulo)
Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)
Ecclestone said last year the promoter was trying to strike a "long-term" deal with Singapore, and played down comments that the Republic was looking to drop the race.
Singapore's 23-turn circuit under lights is seen as one of the most challenging and prestigious on the calendar and has proved popular with fans. But organisers said a slowing economic climate has seen daily attendance slump from 87,000 in 2015 to 73,000 in 2016.
Should there be an extension, the race will take place on Sept 16 - a day earlier than this season.
"We wanted to finalise next season's calendar early, so that all our stakeholders would have more time to prepare and we have managed it, thanks in part through working closely with the FIA," Carey said.
The French Grand Prix will return next year, for the first time since 2008, as part of an unprecedented triple-header with Austria and Britain.
The race at Le Castellet, inland from Marseille, will be on June 24, followed by Austria on July 1 and Silverstone on July 8.
F1 has not had three races on successive weekends before, due to logistical reasons, although it has been mooted.
The season will start in Australia on March 25.
Germany also returns on July 22 with a race at Hockenheim.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS