Singapore in no rush to sign new Formula One deal, with 2018 race still in doubt

‘Negotiations ongoing’ says trade ministry

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2017, 10:41am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2017, 9:55pm

Singapore will not be rushed into extending its contract with Formula One, the trade ministry said as negotiations for the night race to continue in the city-state are underway.

“Negotiations for the term renewal for F1 is ongoing and a decision has not been reached,” a ministry spokesperson said.

“The process is a deliberate one to carefully consider the terms and benefits.”

Race organiser Singapore GP said it could not comment because negotiations are underway.

In a 2018 event calendar released Monday by motorsport’s governing body FIA, there was an asterix next to the Shanghai and Singapore dates with a note that said “subject to commercial rights holder confirmation”.

New F1 CEO Chase Carey insisted that he expects all 21 events on the calendar to be confirmed.

“Our expectation and goal is to have a race [in China and Singapore]. We’re engaged with them,” Carey said at the FIA Sport Conference.

Is China finally set to give up on Formula One and scrap its Shanghai grand prix?

“The reason is the contracts were up this year, so we’re negotiating new agreements. Those agreements aren’t completed. We’re having good discussions and our expectation is to have it, but obviously we don’t have a signed agreement, so it’s just a reality of life with a lead time that still exists.

“We haven’t even had this year’s Singapore race, let alone next year’s, so it’s just the reality of having agreements that have come up. We’re negotiating new agreements, we’re having good, constructive discussions, and expect to get there, but we want it to be accurate.

“We don’t expect it to be 19, we expect it to be 21. We wouldn’t have put it out if we didn’t expect it to be 21, but the reality is we don’t have a completed agreement.”

The then-Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone said last year the promoter was trying to strike a “long-term” deal with Singapore, and played down comments that the Lion City was looking to drop the race.

Singapore’s 23-turn, Marina Bay street circuit is seen as one of the most challenging on the calendar and has proved popular with fans.

But organisers said a slowing economic climate has seen daily attendance slump to 73,000 in 2016 from 87,000 in 2015.

If negotiations fall through, it would mark the end of Formula One in Southeast Asia. Malaysia has announced that this year’s race there will be the last due to rising costs and low returns.