Racing

Ecclestone: Singapore GP will stay

Former F1 supremo says losing the Malaysian GP is no big deal because of Singapore

Formula 1 will not miss the Malaysian Grand Prix when it drops off the calendar after this year's race because neighbouring Singapore is set to stay as the region's showcase, former commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Malaysia, which has been part of the world championship since 1999, will bow out in October, a year earlier than previously scheduled.

There have also been questions about the Singapore Grand Prix, a popular night race whose contract expires this year, with Ecclestone suggesting last November that talks were not going well.

Asked whether Malaysia's departure was a blow, Ecclestone shook his head.

"No, not at all. We've got Singapore," said the 86-year-old Briton, who was ousted in January as series supremo but retains an undefined "emeritus" role.

"If we'd have lost Singapore, it's not good. But we haven't lost Singapore, so it's OK. They (Singapore) were going to stop... it's OK now."

It costs an estimated $150 million to host the world's premier motor racing event in the Republic, with Singapore's contract coming to an end after this year's edition, from Sept 15-17.

The New Paper, however, understands that Singapore GP, organisers of the race here, are still locked in talks to extend the contract that has seen F1's first night race grace Singapore streets from 2008.

It is understood that no decision has been reached yet.

Ecclestone also hit back at Sepang circuit boss Razlan Razali, who told reporters last week that Ecclestone had showed a "lack of respect" and made promoters "look like idiots" with comments about charging high hosting fees.

"Nobody made him look stupid, and it's difficult to make people look stupid. If they are, they are," said the Briton, who ran the sport for decades as a dealmaker.

"They have done a very good job with the motorcycles, he's fallen in love with motorbike racing - and that (MotoGP) they apparently make money from," he said of Razali, whose circuit will continue with MotoGP.

"With Formula 1, they don't make money... Not our fault. We don't make the show.

"But, thankfully now, if Ferrari keep up their job and the other people do the same, we'll have very good racing and then things should be a lot better for the promoters. They should be able to sell tickets."

Ferrari have won two of the first three races of the season before Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas claimed his maiden Formula 1 victory at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday. 
- WIRE SERVICES

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