F1 supremo Carey wants Singapore GP to continue
Describing the night race as a spectacle, F1 chief Carey reveals negotiations for new deal going well
The chequered flag is out with the finish line in sight, as the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix heads into its 10th and final edition on Sunday.
The current deal to stage a race here ends this year, with much speculation over whether authorities in Singapore will sign a new contract to continue the relationship beyond 2017.
While he would only say that negotiations are continuing, Formula One chairman and CEO Chase Carey gave the broadest hint yet that the sport's first night grand prix will race on at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
On the sidelines of the All That Matters (Sports Matters) conference at the Ritz Carlton yesterday, the 63-year-old Irish-born American said: "We have a great relationship with our partners, a deal has not been concluded but discussions are still ongoing.
"This is a marquee race for us and our goal is to renew the contract."
Carey replaced Bernie Ecclestone as the sport's CEO in January, after the American media conglomerate Liberty Media bought F1 for US$4.4 billion (S$6b) last year.
Last year's Singapore race was the first Carey attended and, yesterday, he revealed how he was blown away by it.
"Last year was the first time I was here and I thought it was spectacular," said Carey.
"Singapore is one of the gateways into Asia and its incredible story of growth in the last 50 years captures the world's imagination.
"We want our races to be a spectacle, an event, an identity... Singapore does that and they have done a really good job."
The race has become known for its pop concerts and entertainment alongside the grand prix, and Carey praised the organisers for being "ahead of the curve" in the drive to broaden the fan experience.
Reiterating his optimism that Formula One will be back here next year, even though an asterisk accompanies the Singapore date on the 21-event roster for 2018, he said: "You can never rest on your laurels, so I think you've got to continue to find ways to make it fresh, make it new, so I think we have to continue to work.
"If you're standing still, you're going backwards.
"But I think Singapore, with such a spectacular skyline and the setting for that race, I think is something that will always capture people's imagination."
In many ways, it's a race that anchors our Asian strategy... a signature race for us globally and it's great to be here.Formula One chairman and CEO Chase Carey, on the significance of the Singapore Grand Prix
Liberty's plans include potentially forming American, European and Asian sections of the season.
On the track, the new owners will also emphasise development of the GP2 and GP3 series to raise the next generation of drivers.
Carey also promised changes and "big initiatives", as he stressed the need for the sport to "connect and engage" in the digital age.
"We haven't done enough to give our stars the platform to engage, and make the casual fan a passionate fan," he said.
"It used to be saying 'no' to everything, but now, we say 'yes' to a lot of things.
"We will re-energise TV coverage with graphics and sounds, and make the sport more understandable."
On the track, the next generation of engines is on the way, with the F1 supremo describing it as "state of the art but not complicated; simpler, cheaper, louder, and still second to none".
Also in the works is a simplification of the penalty structure to avoid the mess in the Monza race in Italy two weeks ago that saw nine drivers sanctioned a total of 150 grid places, mainly for technical infractions.
Carey does not rule out alterations to the race format as well, although he added: "I wouldn't exclude anything, but we also need to be careful and respect this sport which has such a rich history."