After months of speculation that Singapore may not renew its Formula One (F1) contract, F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that Singapore no longer wants to host the race.
The Singapore Grand Prix takes place on the Marina Bay Street Circuit and was the inaugural night race and first street circuit in Asia for F1 races.
First organised back in 1961, the event was discontinued after 1973 and a variety of reasons have been suggested, including an increase in traffic, the very high danger and unsuitability of the track for racing, the inconvenience of having to close roads for the event and fatal accidents during the 1972 and 1973 races.
The race was revived in 2008 after an agreement for a 5-year deal was signed by Singapore GP Pte Ltd, the Singapore Tourism Board and Bernie Ecclestone. In 2012, Bernie Ecclestone and the Singapore Grand Prix agreed that the Grand Prix will remain on the F1 calendar through the year of 2017.
However, in September 2016, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran said that no decision has been made on extending the hosting agreement for the Singapore Grand Prix, although talks are underway.
In an interview dated 20th November 2016 with German magazine Auto Motor Und Sport, Ecclestone claimed that Singapore was not going to extend its race deal.
“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 anymore,” he was quoted as saying.
— SingaporeGP (@F1NightRace) November 8, 2016
Attendance for the 2016 edition of the race saw the poorest ticket sales since 2008. The event saw a 15% drop in attendance, with an average of 73,000 spectators per day over the 3-day race weekend. The poor ticketing performance could be attributed greatly to global economic uncertainty as well as the outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in the city-state.