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TODAY20: Singapore pit-stop for F1? (March 28, 2006)

Over the past two decades, TODAY has played an active role in public discourse in Singapore. To mark our 20th anniversary in November, we are re-publishing 20 of our most impactful news articles over the years.

TODAY broke the story in 2006 about the Formula 1 Grand Prix race coming to Singapore as early as 2008.

TODAY broke the story in 2006 about the Formula 1 Grand Prix race coming to Singapore as early as 2008.

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Over the past two decades, TODAY has played an active role in public discourse in Singapore. To mark our 20th anniversary in November, we are re-publishing 20 of our most impactful news articles over the years.

WHAT HAPPENED

  • TODAY broke the story in 2006 about the Formula 1 Grand Prix race coming to Singapore as early as 2008 

  • This was after then-Formula One Management supremo Bernie Ecclestone had declared that Singapore would not hold an F1 race because of the full calendar

  • But in a U-turn, Ecclestone told TODAY that he was open to making it happen if there is interest from Singapore 

WHAT NEXT

  • Singapore held its inaugural F1 Grand Prix in September 2008. To date, it remains the only F1 night race 

  • Since then, the Singapore Tourism Board, Formula One and Singapore GP have extended their contract twice — in 2012 and 2017. The latest contract will run until 2021 

  • Between 2008 and 2017, the Singapore Grand Prix attracted a total of 450,000 visitors to the race, generating an estimated S$1.4 billion in tourism receipts. 

 

SINGAPORE — Keep those fingers crossed and prepare for the ride of your lives.

If all goes well, Singapore could get to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix race as early as 2008. The man who steers the world's top motorsports event has all but invited the authorities here to thrash out the details with him.

In doing so, Formula One Management (FOM) supremo Bernie Ecclestone has made a dramatic U-turn.

About a year back, he told TODAY that Singapore would not hold a Formula 1 Grand Prix because of the full calendar. But speaking from London late last Friday, the Briton said that if Singapore is serious about hosting a Formula 1 Grand Prix, he will ''positively try to make it happen''.

Ecclestone's FOM company holds the commercial rights to the event and he said he could ''squeeze'' in another round in Asia and give Singapore the slot.

''I've been speaking to people about the possibility of a race (in Singapore). My advice now is that if somebody in Singapore is interested and wants to be the promoter to do this, they should contact me and we can start talking about this and see what we can do,'' added the Formula 1 czar.

The 2006 season has 18 grands prix, but last Wednesday in Paris, FIA — motorsports' governing body — approved new sporting regulations for Formula 1 that would allow a maximum of 20 races per season from 2008.

Responding to queries, Singapore Sports Council (SSC) chief executive officer Oon Jin Teik said: ''A vibrant Singapore will be made up of unique, world-class events from the arts, entertainment and sports.

''Over the last few years, Singapore has built up a portfolio of sporting events that have brought buzz to this city-state.

''F1 motorsports is truly a sports business event. The success (or failure) of hosting such a major event is not just about fast cars and a track; instead, it requires a comprehensive plan that deals with understanding the target audience; developing a viable value proposition of commercial and lifestyle entertainment; ensuring widespread broadcast across the globe to draw sports tourism; garnering world-class sponsorship dollars; and building a sustainable year-long motorsports infrastructure.

''It is an expensive proposition but can bring good returns on investment for the country, if done properly.''

''Work is in progress to profile, analyse and choose a preferred list of major events for Sporting Singapore to go after. The SSC will continue to work with all relevant agencies in the quest for a vibrant sporting calendar in Singapore.

''Personally, I have not met Mr Ecclestone but would be interested to have a chat with him,'' Mr Oon added.

Ecclestone, 75, has turned Formula 1 into the world's most-watched sporting spectacle after football and it is currently worth US$2.8 billion ($4.5 billion).

Despite huge hosting fees that can rise to US$40 million, Bahrain and Malaysia reported earlier this year that Formula 1 pumps more than US$100 million into their coffers each race weekend.

While Malaysia, Bahrain and China all built new tracks, Singapore has no purpose-built circuit, but Ecclestone said: ''I think a street circuit will work well. So, the moment we have a serious proposal, I will take a look at it and positively try to make it happen in Singapore. Get some people to contact me and I will talk to them.

''I think Asia is good. We have had a lot of success in Asia. Malaysia has become much stronger now and there is a lot more interest there.

''Maybe we can squeeze one more in Asia.''

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today20 Formula 1 f1 grand prix bernie ecclestone

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