Formula One: S'pore in no rush to extend race deal

The Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit is approaching the final year of a five-year deal.
The Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit is approaching the final year of a five-year deal.PHOTO: SINGAPORE GP PTE LTD

Ministry says no decision reached yet, with Marina Bay night race negotiations 'ongoing'

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

  • MARCH 25 
    Australia (Melbourne) 

    APRIL 8 
    China (Shanghai) 

    APRIL 15 
    Bahrain (Sakhir) 

    APRIL 29 
    Azerbaijan (Baku) 

    MAY 13 
    Spain (Barcelona) 

    MAY 27 
    Monaco 

    JUNE 10 
    Canada (Montreal) 

    JUNE 24 
    France (Le Castellet) 

    JULY 1 
    Austria (Spielberg) 

    JULY 8 
    Britain (Silverstone) 

    JULY 22 
    Germany (Hockenheim) 

    JULY 29 
    Hungary (Budapest) 

    AUG 26 
    Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps) 

    SEPT 2 
    Italy (Monza) 

    SEPT 16 
    Singapore 

    SEPT 30 
    Russia (Sochi) 

    OCT 7 
    Japan (Suzuka) 

    OCT 21 
    United States (Austin) 

    OCT 28 
    Mexico (Mexico City) 

    NOV 11 
    Brazil (Sao Paulo) 

    NOV 25 
    Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)

  • AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore in no rush to extend F1 race deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe