The Singapore Grand Prix – the first race in Formula 1's 58-year official history to have been held at night and under spotlights – can go on to out-shine what has for decades been the most glamorous event on the sport's calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix.
That is the belief of Sir Frank Williams, whose driver Nico Rosberg finished a season and career-best second to Renault's Fernando Alonso in the Far Eastern city-state last weekend. F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has made no secret of his desire to see more races held in that part of the world – and more night races at that – and Williams, the top flight's longest-serving entrant, seems to agree.
The 66-year-old points to the economic prosperity of the Far East – particularly in China and India – whilst the rest of the world faces financial meltdown, as a factor not to be underplayed as F1 seeks to branch out into ever-more lucrative markets, and suggests the European hegemony of the world's most expensive sport may be coming to an end.
On the subject of Singapore, Williams is quoted by news agency AFP
as contending that the grand prix 'will put more of a sporting face on this nation', adding that in his opinion the race stands 'a good chance of challenging Monaco for being the jewel in the crown of F1'.
“Empires go round and round,” he reasoned, “and I hope the Singapore Grand Prix will put more interest in Singapore and this part of the world.”
Alongside Singapore on the calendar are five more races in Australasia and the Middle and Far East – in the form of Australia, Bahrain, China, Japan and Malaysia – whilst Abu Dhabi is set to make its grand prix bow at the end of next season, South Korea is scheduled to jump into the fray in 2010 and India is mooted to join the club a year later again.
The arrival of new races in this part of the world has necessitated the disappearance of more traditional European events, with Imola in San Marino having last welcomed F1 in 2006, Magny-Cours in France to leave the calendar after 2009 and the future of the British Grand Prix a constant source of uncertainty, Ecclestone affording the race – one that hosted the first-ever F1 World Championship event all the way back in 1950 – precious little sentimentality.
claims work has begun on a Formula 1-standard circuit near the town of Volokolamsk in Russia, about 50 miles west of Moscow. The track has been conceived by acclaimed F1 designer Hermann Tilke, and will initially bid to hold MotoGP and DTM races, F1SA
The construction of the 'Moscow Raceway' will be overseen by Hans Geist, a man formerly in charge of F1 projects in Bahrain and Austria, at a cost of £120 million and with a scheduled completion date of 2010.
“The track will be designed to Formula 1 standards,” Geist confirmed, “but the operator may not necessarily have a grand prix, even if the opportunity would be accepted if presented.”
A previous attempt to launch a Russian Grand Prix was curtailed when the Mayor of Moscow was shot, whilst Ecclestone's predilection for a race to be held in the historic city of St Petersburg proved not to be popular amongst city officials.