No More F1 in South East Asia
The Globetrotting Carnival of Formula One could find itself without a home in South East Asia for the first time in twenty years. Singapore might be pulling out as it considers the incredible costs of hosting the event against the international headlines it grabs as a result.
Just this week, Malaysia, which has hosted a round of the F1 since 1998 at the Sepang International Circuit, confirmed that the sports will have no future in the country, after it hosts the Grand Prix in 2018, with government ministers bemoaning the lack of tangible economic returns. Now, many insiders are claiming that our old mate, Bernie Ecclestone, is playing a high stakes game of roulette with the region’s other Grand Prix, the Singapore Marina Bay floodlight night race, over the amount of money Singapore has to pay to host the event.
With the exception of the Monaco Grand Prix, all of the venues have to pay a significant amount of money to Formula One to gain the rights to host the event, and in the case of Singapore, this amount is US$65 million per year. All of the TV rights are owned by F1, so the only money most of the events get from hosting is the tickets, and in the case of events such as Singapore, an increase in tourism. This is possibly why in the past few years, we have seen events in places such as India and South Korea come and go, turning the once shiny new purpose-built circuits into white elephants.
It is no secret that the 86-year-old F1 Supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, believes that Singapore is the Jewel in the Crown of the F1 season as he is known to love the way which it is organised. The intricate logistics of creating the world-class street circuit is a marvel to behold and the innovative additions to the racing, in the form of Mariah Carey, Maroon 5, Baby Beiber, Katy Perry and Kylie Minogue, to name but a few. It has been copied the world over, chiefly by the USA event, which added 20,000 additional spectators, who came more for Taylor Swift than the race.
The Singapore race agreement runs out after the 2017 event, and currently Singapore pays the third highest amount after Abu Dhabi and Malaysia, and it is no secret that the island nation wants to pay a lot less for hosting such a lavish affair. For its part, Singapore believes that it has done an awful lot to elevate the sport throughout the world, but it is negotiating with Bernie, who is renowned for his ‘take it or leave it’ attitude. Bernie has never been backwards in coming forwards, and for his part has told the German Auto Motor Und Sport magazine that the sport had done a lot for Singapore. And whilst F1 had received a lot of money from the Singapore event, F1 had in fact also given the country a lot of money.
F1 has always been a bit of a funny old sport that, to a larger extent, only survives on the back of state funding, in most cases. Governments in Australia, Azerbaijan, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Canada, China, Hungary, Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the United States basically pay huge fees for the right to host an event. In the entire calendar, there are but four events that are still in the hands of private investors, those being Austria, Britain, Monaco and Japan, and of these, it is widely believed that Monaco gets a free pass to the rather exclusive club.