Cancellation leaves Singapore GP without F1 deal

The Marina Bay street circuit

The cancellation of this year’s Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix have left organisers without a contract with analysts suggesting it’s the end of the road for the event.

Over the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend, organisers announced that the 2021 race around the Marina Bay street circuit would not go ahead.

It marks the second year in succession that the event has been called off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s race was set to be the last under the current contract, with no deal in place for subsequent events.

Officials would only reaffirm comments made when the cancellation was confirmed when pressed on the matter.

“Singapore GP is in discussions with the Government and Formula 1 on the issue of hosting the FIA Formula 1 World Championship going forward,” a spokesperson told Speedcafe.com.

“We are working towards a mutually beneficial outcome for all parties and will announce details in due course.”

The most recent contract was signed in 2017, a four-year extension covering 2018-2021.

For the race to continue, a new deal now needs to be struck, though opinion in Singapore is divided on whether the event should continue.

“The unique selling point of Singapore for F1 is still there,” Dr Dianna Chang, senior lecturer, marketing, Singapore University of Social Studies told Channel News Asia.

“We are still the one and only street night race, we’ve got the beautiful skylines of Marina Bay Sands and Singapore CBD.”

Dr Chang’s view is not universal among analysts, while Singapore’s uniqueness has been diluted in recent years.

Furthermore, the circus is set to visit Saudi Arabia for the first time on December 3-5 where it will take in a night race around the Jeddah street circuit.

“Formula 1, especially the Singapore Grand Prix, has run its course, Singapore doesn’t need it anymore,” R Sasikumar, CEO of Red Car Global, told Channel News Asia.

“The other thing is affordability. As Singapore recovers from this pandemic maybe money is better spent in trying to rebuild the economy rather than putting it towards a Formula 1 race.”

Singapore is believed to pay one of the highest hosting fees of any event on the calendar at more than $130million annually – down from an estimated $145million of the previous contract.

Formula 1 first visited Marina Bay in 2008 though can trace its lineage back to the mid-1960s when a Formula Libre race was held around the Thomson Road circuit – a race won by Australians Garrie Cooper, Max Stewart, and Vern Schuppan.

Fernando Alonso controversially won the event’s rebirth for Renault after team-mate Nelson Piquet deliberately crashed.

This year’s race was set to run from October 1 -3, ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, an event which is also now under a cloud.

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