Singapore Grand Prix to come to an end in 2017?

While most of us have gotten used to the annual Singapore Grand Prix (GP), which first took place in 2008, in a recent interview with Auto Motor Und Sport, Bernie Ecclestone, chief of Formula One (F1) reportedly said that the Singapore might not extend the deal.

According to an article on CNA, Ecclestone said this was "because it had achieved what it wanted with the Grand Prix". The article also quoted him saying that while GP has undoubtedly cost Singapore a lot of money, it has given the country a lot of money in return too.

"Look at what we have done for Singapore. Yes, the Grand Prix has cost Singapore a lot of money, but we’ve also given them a lot of money, he said adding:

Singapore was suddenly more than just an airport to fly to or from somewhere. Now they believe they have reached their goal and they do not want a Grand Prix anymore.

In September this year, Ministry of Trade S Iswaran had also mentioned that the talk was still on -going as to whether the GP would be extended. The comments came at a time when US firm Liberty Media confirmed it buying out Formula 1 for $4.4billion. When asked about the statement by Marketing, a spokesperson from GP Singapore said it does not "comment on ongoing commercial negotiations.”

The nation last inked a contract in 2012 where it signed on a five year partnership with Formula 1. Since it first started, it has had two title sponsors namely local telco Singtel and national airline SIA.

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But in recent times, various reports have suggested that the attendance at the Grand Prix saw a drop. According to a recent article by Channel News Asia, the event saw an average of only 73,000 spectators when compared to 87,000 spectators in 2015, and 100, 000 in 2008.

However players in the marketing and branding space felt that with the partnership on the rocks, Singapore would have more to lose.

Nick Foley, president Southeast Asia Pacific and Japan, Landor said that it is "regrettable" that Singapore is now assessing if it wants to maintain its association with the F1. He explained that rather than quitting the event, due to one year of lower ticket sales, the organisers of the event should consider how the format can be altered in order to bring in something new.

“It feels far too early for Singapore to be opting out. The F1 has elevated Singapore above being a ‘stopover’, and meant that a great deal of people see it as a ‘destination’. It would be a shame to see the perception of Singapore drift as a result of not having anything to truly attract the crowds,” he added.

Further, Foley stated that that the move purely depends on if it is a short term or a long term strategy.  He added,

If Singapore purely wanted to use the F1 as mechanism for standing out from its neighbours, then F1 has done its job.

However, stressing on the long term impact such events can have, he said, “Major sporting events have a greater impact on a nation if they’re managed for the longer term.”

Echoing the same sentiment as Foley, is Graham Hitchmough, CEO , South and Southeast Asia who said that hosting the event has helped establish Singapore on the international map, but at a significant cost, both commercially and logistically.  He added, “It can be argued that F1 is appealing to a relatively static core of fans and aficionados, rather than actually extending the appeal and image of Singapore to new audiences.”

Hitchmough further added, “If Singapore does surrender the race and its three days in the international sporting limelight, it will be due less to commercial pressures and more to a calculated assessment that the relationship has served its purpose.”

This year, with Zika on the rise in Singapore, overseas countries such as Korea, Taiwan and Australia had also issued travel advisories to pregnant female citizens intending to travel to Singapore. Marketing has also asked STB if the country saw a decline in tourist numbers this GP season.

Meanwhile, Heineken also inked an international deal with Formula One Management (FOM) in June this year, which saw the global beer brand become a sponsor for Formula 1 globally.