Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone said on Monday (21 November) that he hopes to continue to run the Singapore Grand Prix in the country as the current’s deal will be expired next year, stating that what he said earlier was misquoted.
In an exclusive phone call with The Straits Times, Mr Bernie said, “F1’s stand is to hopefully continue in Singapore. Everybody is happy to be in Singapore and (we) don’t want to lose Singapore. Negotiations are ongoing and will be sorted out shortly before the end of the year, I’m sure. We want to extend long term. We’ll see what happens.”
In a previous interview with German publication Auto Motor Und Sport on Sunday (20 November), the 86-year-old F1 Supremo said, “Look at what we have done for Singapore. Yes, the Grand Prix has cost Singapore a lot of money, but we’ve also given them a lot of money.”
“Singapore was suddenly more than just an airport to fly to or from somewhere. Now they believe they have reached their goal and they do not want a Grand Prix anymore,” he added.
When asked about his statements he made, Mr Bernie said that he was misquoted.
“My words were taken in a funny way. What I said was simple – no decision has been taken yet. There’s no good speculating. We get on with it, with the negotiations, and see what happens,” the man said.
The organiser invited Kylie Minogue to be part of the F1 weekend this year, hoping to increase the appeal to watch the race.
Some drivers also voiced their interest in joining another race at Marina Bay Street Circuit, including Mercedes’ three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
However, there was a 15 percent drop in attendance for the 2016 edition, according to the Singapore Grand Prix. It stated that only an average of 73,000 spectators attended for each of the three days of the race, while the 2015 edition welcomed about 87,000 spectators daily. This shows a worrying decline in interest since the inaugural race in 2008 which drew more than 100,000 spectators.
Singapore GP said, “The overall ticket take-up is 15 per cent lower than the average attendance at the Circuit Park since the inaugural race.”
International TV viewership has also stayed constant at around 80.7 million. However, F1’s overall worldwide viewership falling from 600 million in 2008 to 425 million in 2014.
Mr Iswaran told Parliament in 2013 that the race costs around $150 million a year. He stated that 60 percent of which is co-funded by the Government. He also said that the race generates $150 million in incremental tourism receipts for each edition.