Singapore Grand Prix

Ungrateful Singapore ‘just an airport’ before Formula One arrived, says sport’s chief with city set to dump its race

Bernie Ecclestone suggests Lion City is being ungrateful for the benefit his sport supposedly brought

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 9:26am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 11:12pm

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone suggested Singapore was ungrateful to the sport as he revealed the Lion City is set to quit hosting its Grand Prix.

Long-time chief executive Ecclestone said the city’s night race – hosted since 2008 – had basically put the city on the map and elevated it from being “just an airport”.

Ecclestone was quoted in the latest edition of Germany’s Auto Motor Und Sport magazine as saying that Singapore would not extend the deal.

“There is no gratitude,” said the 86-year-old, referring to teams who might pull out.

“They go when Formula One has met the job for them ... It is the same with the organisers,” the F1 chief executive was quoted as saying.

“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.”

Singapore pioneered night racing – to cater to European TV viewers – when it was added to the F1 circuit in 2008 and is one of the highlights of the season for fans and drivers.

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However, reports emerged after the latest Singapore race in September that ticket sales were at its lowest in nine years. 

Daily attendance around the Marina Bay circuit in September was reported at 73,000, while the total number of spectators over the three days of track action was 219,000.

Singapore GP organisers refused to comment, according to Singapore media.

The news has led some to wonder if Hong Kong could take over.

Hong Kong hosted Formula E through the streets of Central this year, but replacing Singapore as hosts of an F1 event is unlikely.

Lawrence Yu Kam-kee, governor of the Hong Kong Automobile Association who was instrumental in bringing Formula E to the city, explained:

“We can’t even think of it as we don’t have a track or the necessary hardware to run it in the streets.

“Though Singapore is a street circuit, they have a permanent paddock, control tower etc ­- unless we could get that built in Hong Kong we could never stage an event like that.

“Not even thinking about the money it would require, we just don’t have the hardware necessary.”

Ecclestone also said that the Brazilian and German Grands Prix were also under threat and even speculated that world champion teams Mercedes and Ferrari may leave the sport within the next few years.

“It could happen to us that Mercedes and Ferrari run away,” said Ecclestone. “But honestly, if the races get better, this may not be such a terrible vision.

“We have to expect the manufacturers to leave us anyway. Mercedes will retire on the day when it suits them and it’s something we had before – look at Honda, BMW and Toyota. They go when Formula One has done the job for them. There is no gratitude.

“It is the same with the organisers.”

Ecclestone was also asked by the magazine what he thought about Donald Trump being president and replied “Perfect. Good for the world, good for America.

“He is flexible. And he is ready to make the changes that America and the world need. The world is changing. So you need people who want to change. If the other candidate had succeeded, the same policies would have been made as [we have] now.”