Singapore Grand Prix sees biggest crowd since 2008

This article is more than 12 months old

Appeal of the race still strong despite rise of martial arts and eSports

The biggest star of Formula One, Lewis Hamilton, delivered a masterclass drive yesterday to win the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, and it came as crowd figures signalled that the race's appeal remains as strong as ever.

It may be the 11th edition, but this year's night race drew 263,000 fans over the three days, the second highest attendance recorded after 300,000 attended the inaugural race in 2008.

Race promoter Singapore GP noted that this year's numbers was a 3.5 per cent increase over the average of the past 10 races and attributed the jump to its offerings such as its enhanced Paddock Club and hospitality suite, family-friendly initiatives and entertainment acts that included Taiwanese musician Jay Chou, English singer Dua Lipa and US rock band The Killers.

This bodes well for the Republic, which last year had extended its contract to host the race until 2021.

Then Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran had revealed that the 10 years of staging the event had led to more than 450,000 international visitors, who have contributed about $1.4 billion in incremental tourism receipts. He also noted that the annual cost had come down to $135 million from $150 million.

The continued popularity of F1, in the face of the rise of mixed martial arts and eSports geared to younger audiences, had been questioned in recent years.

Liberty Media, which spent US$8 billion (S$11 billion) in September 2016 to take over F1, has taken steps to address this.

A new concept car, slated for 2021, was unveiled last Friday. The new owner also focused on expanding the sport's social media presence in the hope of targeting millennials.

Such moves have paid off. According to an F1 report last December, about 4.07 million spectators attended the 20 races last season. This was a 8.77 per cent increase from the previous year's total of 3.74 million.