Sports

Ecclestone: S’pore wants to drop F1

Singapore GP spokesman says they do not 'comment on ongoing negotiations'

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has claimed that Singapore Grand Prix chiefs no longer want to hold a Formula 1 race here.

The Singapore Grand Prix's contract will run out after next year and there has been speculation over the popular night race's future.

In an interview with German publication Auto Motor Und Sport yesterday, the 86-year-old Ecclestone 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 any more."

In response, a Singapore Grand Prix spokesman told The New Paper: "We don't comment on ongoing commercial negotiations."

Ecclestone also said that he would not be surprised if some of the current manufacturers - including world champions Mercedes - quit the sport in the next few years, too.

"It could happen to us that Mercedes and Ferrari run away," explained the Briton.

"But honestly, if the races get better, this may not be such a terrible vision. We have to expect the manufacturers to leave us anyway.

"Mercedes will retire on the day when it suits them and it's something we had before - look at Honda, BMW and Toyota. They go when Formula 1 has done the job for them.

"There is no gratitude."

Meanwhile, Ecclestone also believes that the sport could be made more attractive by ditching the current one-race format for two shorter races.

He believes F1 would appeal more to modern audiences, sponsors and advertisers if there were two 40-minute races, separated by a gap during which drivers could be interviewed.

But he questioned whether the sport's decision-makers have the "courage" to make such a seismic change to the traditional schedule.

"People have a much shorter attention span and a lot of sports are looking at introducing shorter forms of their games," the F1 chief executive told the Sunday Times.

TV AUDIENCE

"The television audience went up for Brazil. We had a long race with the heavy rain and a couple of crashes, but that meant we had two starts because of the red flags, and people tuned in.

"We need to look at the traditional concept of one long race.

"Two 40-minute races with a 40-minute break in the middle when the drivers could be interviewed, cars worked on, would be attractive to viewers, the TV companies, the sponsors, and advertisers would love it.

"Cars would qualify on a Saturday as usual for the first race and that would set the grid for the second.

"It would shake things up with lighter, faster cars.

"But I don't know if we have the courage to change.

"Times change though and it is something we must look at."

- Wire Services.

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