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Singapore plans overtaking boost.

Despite being acclaimed as the most successful Formula One event of 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix is not about to rest on its laurels, with plans already afoot to improve the on-track action for next year's race.

While neighbour China is admitting that it may not be able to continue to stage an F1 event if the cost of being a host remains at its current level, Singapore looks set to make changes to the street circuit running through the heart of the city state, which broke new ground in 2008 by staging the first-ever floodlit grand prix.

While the event met with critical acclaim - culminating in the Motor Sport Facility of the Year title at the Professional Motor Sport World awards - organisers are aware of that the race itself, had it not been for a couple of safety car interventions, could have been among the more processional of 2008. In the end, Nelson Piquet Jr's lap 13 accident allowed Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso to bounce back from a qualifying nightmare to give the regie the first of two wins on the season but, with a couple of exceptions, there was precious little overtaking under green flag conditions.

Although not quite as dire the event staged by fellow debutant Valencia, Singapore is determined to spice things up for 2009, when it will again feature on the title run-in, with organisers planning to widen some parts of the track to allow more overtaking opportunities.

"Turns one, two and three – the chicane area – could be modified to open it up a little bit more," event chairman Teo Hock Seng revealed to ChannelNews Asia, "and perhaps Stamford corner could be extended so that there is a little bit more access for overtaking."

Seng also admitted that two further sections - at St Andrews Road and turn 22 - could see greater run-off areas created in order to try and tempt drivers to consider passing attempts, although the circuit layout itself would remain unchanged from that which greeted the F1 circus in late September.

Despite the lack of overtaking and concerns about the pit entry and exit, the Marina Bay circuit was judged to be a success on most other fronts, leading to its recognition at the Professional Motor Sport World event in Cologne earlier this month.

The first floodlit F1 venue beat off competition from the new harbour-side circuit which played host to the European Grand Prix in Valencia, as well as Toyota Racing Development's chassis engineering building in Cologne and a new state-of-the-art racing facility at Sturup in Sweden to claim the accolade, and was commended both for the revolutionary track lighting system that made racing after dark possible, and the spectacular way in which it wove through the heart of the city.

The race attracted a sell-out 100,000 crowd over its three days, while figures of more than 30 million are expected when TV viewing numbers are released for the five main European F1 'markets' of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, and fans will also be accommodated with other planned changes to the Marina Bay venue.

While ticket prices will be adjusted in an effort to benefit both the event and the 'everyday' fan - with some prices being raised and others lowered - changes to the paddock layout, to make more room for spectator catering, and waterway access are planned for 2009. The event also hopes to attract more overseas visitors, despite around half of this year's on-site audience reckoned to be foreigners.

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Chris - Unregistered

November 24, 2008 9:32 AM

maybe we (the UK that is) should take lessons on how to build a world class F1 facility. The track could be improved - imagine a new donington park with those facilities - it would have to be one of the best tracks in the world. It's easy to be cynical about Bernie but maybe that's all he wants - for the UK to raise their game and produce a top class race track.

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