Singapore GP praised by new F1 chief Carey
Good mix of race, music and excitement impresses new F1 boss
It was his first race as the new chairman of Formula One, but Chase Carey was already impressed with what he saw last weekend at the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.
"Singapore certainly is amazing. The race is great - that's the core - but it is really a week-long extravaganza with music and entertainment," said the American, who is also the vice-chairman of the 21st Century Fox media group, in a media interview on the F1 website.
"That's really what it is about - great events."
However, the future of the Singapore race, which the Republic has hosted every year since 2008, is up in the air, with the current deal expiring after the 2017 edition.
Yesterday, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran said talks about extending the deal are still in "early stages", given Liberty Media's recent takeover from CVC Capital Partners as the controlling shareholder of the F1.
"I welcome his comment that he's very impressed by the Singapore race, indeed he shared with me that he'd like that all the races would be like this," Mr Iswaran said, after the Abu Dhabi-Singapore Forum at the Economic Development Board office in Raffles City yesterday.
"It's an early stage in the new configuration in F1, so we have to give them time to settle down and then think it through in terms of what they'd like to put forward."
The Singapore Government will consider carefully any new agreement, he added, and ensure that it is "anchored on clear mutual benefits, and terms that are mutually acceptable".
Other than Carey, Mr Iswaran said yesterday that he had spoken to F1 supremo Bernie Eccelstone and several team principals last weekend to get an all-round sense of the current climate in the competition following the buyout, but declined to say when a decision on the future of the Singapore race would be made.
Mr S Iswaran. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MEDICAL MANUFACTURING ASIA 2016
Mr Iswaran said: "All parties involved would want to be sure that we have a good understanding of the overall situation, not just of the next year, or the year after, but really some visibility of how the sport and the business is going to develop in the years ahead, because any deal that you do has a multi-year time frame."
The average attendance for the Singapore race this year was 15 per cent lower than the average attendance since 2008; an average of 73,000 fans attended each of the three days of the race weekend, compared to 87,000 last year, and over 100,000 in 2008.
But Mr Iswaran is not worried about the dip in attendance figures this year.
He said: "That's really more of a reflection of global environment in terms of economic uncertainty.
"Interestingly, the Paddock Club and suites have done well, they have held up and... suggest that at the premium level the race continues to have traction with interested consumers and fans.
"It's more perhaps the broader level that we have some issues because of the economic cycle."
While the concert-and-race format has worked wonders for the Singapore Grand Prix, Mr Iswaran said they will be on the lookout for innovations to make the race better, if the Republic is to continue hosting a race beyond next year.
He said: "You can be assured that if we are to go forward, then collectively we will be looking at how to make this interesting and make it continue to be a compelling point in the F1 calendar."