By Abhishek Takle
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Formula One is keen to secure a new deal to keep the Singapore Grand Prix on the calendar beyond this year, its chief executive Chase Carey said, with the sport eyeing a long-term future in the city-state.
The Singapore Grand Prix joined the Formula One calendar in 2008 as the sport’s first night race. Sunday’s edition, the country’s 10th, is set to be the last under the current deal.
“We haven’t concluded a deal yet but we’re having positive discussions and it is certainly our goal to try and reach a deal that works for both of us,” Carey told reporters at the All That Matters industry conference in downtown Singapore.
“We’re proud of the race, we have a good relationship and our goal is to get to a place where we build on that partnership long-term,” Carey, who replaced Bernie Ecclestone as the sport’s CEO in January, said in a keynote address at the conference.
Crowds, which topped 100,000 on all three days in the first year, in Singapore have declined, with last year’s race averaging 73,000 spectators for each day, down from 87,000 in 2015.
But the race, which takes place on a floodlit street circuit that winds its way through the heart of Singapore against a backdrop of glittering skyscrapers, remains one of the most popular and glamorous on the 20-round calendar.
The race, along with China, is provisionally part of next season’s 21-round schedule but is marked by an asterisk as subject to confirmation by the sport’s commercial rights holder.
Malaysia also hosts a grand prix but next month’s race at Sepang will be its last.
“It is certainly a spectacular setting with the city lit up, racing through the streets, a race we are proud of,” said Carey for whom last year’s Singapore round was the first race he attended, only days after Liberty Media agreed its purchase of Formula One.
“In many ways it’s a race that anchors our Asian strategy. Still early days for us growing in Asia. But certainly a signature race for Asia, a signature race for us globally and it’s great to be here.”
Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry confirmed the negotiations were continuing.
“We are in discussion with Formula One on the term renewal for F1 and are carefully considering several issues. More details will be shared when ready,” a spokesperson said.
(Reporting by Abhishek Takle; additional reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)