Politicians in Singapore have admitted that staging a grand prix on the streets of the city-state will not be a foregone conclusion when it comes time to renegotiate the race's contract with Bernie Ecclestone, despite the latter revealing that he's love the event to remain a part of the F1 calendar for a long time yet.
Speaking ahead of the third running of F1's only night race, the sport's ringmaster was in effusive mood, claiming that the new 'jewel in F1's crown' should remain unchanged 'for another 20 years', but those paying for it admitted that any future beyond the end of its current deal, in 2012, would only be decided after consulting the balance sheet. The initial five-year deal has a two-year extension option built in.
Although the majority of the paddock enjoys the novelty of a night race, particularly in such a cosmopolitan and vibrant location, and the hotel trade reported near 90 per cent occupancy over the weekend, there is no guarantee that those in power will share the excitement, having confirmed that 'a thorough cost-and-benefit study' would be needed before any decision was taken.
"We've gone through three quite different years in our experience with F1," the local Straits Times
quoted senior minister of state for trade and industry S.Iswaran, "They give us a good set of data points from which to assess the F1 from. We want to make sure the economic benefits are justifiable going forward. I would say the decision to proceed will rest on a robust cost-benefit analysis, and clearly the terms on any deal we get going forward."
Although Ecclestone is likely to throw his support behind the race in an effort to keep it on the calendar, any sign of weakness could be seized upon as other countries queue up to host races on a calendar that appears to be reaching bursting point at 20 races.
With India scheduled to join the fray next season, despite its site resembling little more than a muddy field at present, and the USA, Rome and Russia also being lined up as expected venues, Ecclestone has again warned that even established hosts, particularly those that had outlived their usefulness, could be culled to make way, hinting that the F1 schedule would move inexorably towards Asia.
“For years and years, I have been saying the world has been moving this way- moving east, not west,” he told the Straits Times