Sports

Amid uncertain future, Singapore Grand Prix penciled in for Sept 16 next year

Amid uncertain future, Singapore Grand Prix penciled in for Sept 16 next year
Singapore F1 Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. TODAY File Photo
But extension of F1 contract beyond this season still 'subject to confirmation'
Published: 12:25 AM, June 20, 2017
Updated: 9:52 PM, June 20, 2017

LONDON — In the biggest sign yet that Singapore Grand Prix may continue beyond this season, Formula One has penciled in Republic's glamorous night race to be held on Sept 16 next year.

F1's governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), published a 21-race 2018 calendar on Monday (June 19) with France and Germany returning while Malaysia drops off.

However, along with China's race in Shanghai on April 8, the Singapore Grand Prix has been earmarked as "subject to confirmation by rights holder".

The Night Race at Singapore's Marina Bay Street Circuit is in its final year of its current five-year deal with F1. 

Contract talks between F1 and the Singapore Government have been ongoing but, in an interview with German magazine Auto Motor Und Sport last November, former F1 head honcho Bernie Ecclestone suggested that Singapore might not be keen on an extension.

In a subsequent U-turn later, Mr Ecclestone said he hoped Singapore will continue to host the race. “F1’s stand is to hopefully continue in Singapore. Everybody is happy to be in Singapore and (we) don’t want to lose Singapore,” said the Briton at the time.

Earlier this year, when asked about the status of discussions, both the Ministry of Trade and Industry and race organiser Singapore GP declined comment.

On Tuesday (June 20), in response to queries from TODAY, the MTI said: "Negotiations for the term renewal for F1 is ongoing and a decision has not been reached. More details will be shared when ready."

Next season's F1 will rev off in Australia on March 25 with teams then travelling to Shanghai and Bahrain, which will be back-to-back on April 8 and 15, before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 29.

Russia was the fourth round this year but that race moves away from the May Day holiday weekend to an end of September slot instead.

Spain's Circuit de Barcelona opens the European season on May 13, followed by the showcase Monaco race, before Formula One travels across the Atlantic to Canada on June 10 and then returns to France.

Germany returns on July 22 with a race at Hockenheim, followed by Hungary on the next weekend, with the three-week August break maintained after fears it might have to go to accommodate the extra races.

Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps and Italy's Monza are also back-to-back races, in late August and early September, with Singapore - Asia's glittering floodlit night race - a stand-alone on Sept 16.

Russia and Japan are paired, as are the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, and Mexico. The season ends in Abu Dhabi, as usual, on Nov 25.

Sean Bratches, commercial managing director for Formula One after former supremo Ecclestone was moved aside in January following Liberty Media's takeover, has spoken of the need to divide the calendar more clearly into regions.

"We're trying to align these things better by territory: European races, the American races, the Asian races," he told Reuters this month.

Liberty wants ultimately to increase the number of races in the United States and there has been talk of the calendar stretching to as many as 25 rounds after 2018. REUTERS

2018 FORMULA ONE SEASON
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, Texas)
Oct 28: Mexico (Mexico City)
Nov 11: Brazil (Sao Paulo)
Nov 25: Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)
*Subject to confirmation by rights holder