The Singapore Grand Prix will remain a fixture on the F1 calendar for at least another five years, it was announced during third and final practice for the 2012 event.
While teams and drivers were putting the final pieces in place for qualifying and raceday, Bernie Ecclestone and representatives of the Singapore government were breaking the news that the majority of the paddock wanted to hear - that F1 would be gracing Marina Bay for another five years, through to the 2017 season. The race had previously appeared with an asterisk against it on the provisional schedule released on Friday, amid concerns that the organisers were seeking a reduction in the fee it pays Ecclestone and FOM to host the event.
"All of us, without exception, like being here - and we are all here for another five years," Ecclestone told the assembled media, "The trouble is they've started something that's so popular worldwide that I'm sure other people are going to want to do this. Now, whether or not we are going to be happy with that, I don't know. We're very happy with what we've got in Singapore, more than happy, and I'm very proud that they had the courage to do this in the first place.”
Ironically, the organisers - who now hope to save money through the way in which they set-up for the event - have not ruled out the possibility of modifying the circuit, possibly even moving it to other parts of the city. Being the F1 calendar's first true night race, Singapore's infrastructure costs are higher than those incurred elsewhere, particularly with the floodlighting required to illuminate the circuit and paddock areas. The grand prix costs S$150 million to organize, with the Singapore government co-funding 60 per cent of that.
“F1 has been good for Singapore,” Singapore's second trade minister S Iswaran said, “Negotiations have taken some time because all parties had specific objectives.
“We expect to achieve a further reduction in the net cost to government through a combination of factors, including optimisation of infrastructure, operational efficiencies in race organisation and revised terms with the race promoter and Formula One Administration.”
The 2012 event is the final race in an initial five-year deal to host F1, with Renault, McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull having shared the four previous wins between them.