Ecclestone casts doubt on Singapore future

20/11/2016
NEWS STORY

Bernie Ecclestone has admitted that he thinks it unlikely that Singapore will renew its contract once it runs out at the end of 2017.

The first ever night race on the F1 calendar, the first Singapore (F1) Grand Prix was held on the Marina Bay Street Circuit in 2008.

Popular with fans, if not all the drivers, every running of the event has seen a Safety Car, not least the 2009 event which saw Nelson Piquet deliberately crash in order to aid teammate Fernando Alonso, the infamous incident forever known as Crash-gate.

In 2012, with a year of the initial contract still to run, Bernie Ecclestone and organisers agreed a new deal which would keep the event on the calendar until the end of 2017.

Speaking to Auto Motor Und Sport however, the F1 supremo has cast doubt on the future of the event, feeling that the contract will not be renewed.

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

"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."

His claim comes at a time three races on the provisional 2017 calendar - Canada, Brazil and Germany - remain under threat and organisers in Malaysia are seeking a means of ending their contract early.

"We do our best to keep Canada on the calendar," he said. "In Brazil we try the same, even if it is difficult. In terms of Hockenheim, we cannot subsidise the race if we do not do the same with other races in Europe."

The Briton also cast doubt on the future of some of the current teams, most notably Mercedes.

"It could happen to us that Mercedes and Ferrari run away," he said. "But honestly, if the races get better, this may not be such a terrible vision.

"We have to expect the manufacturers to leave us anyway. Mercedes will retire on the day when it suits them and it's something we had before... look at Honda, BMW and Toyota. They go when Formula 1 has done the job for them. There is no gratitude."

Fact is, Honda, BMW and Toyota left F1 because they weren't winning, while Renault - which only returned to the sport this year - left following the scandal that was Crash-gate.

Having returned to F1 as a manufacturer following a 55-year absence, Mercedes was seriously considering quitting until the new formula, introduced in 2014, saw it begin a period of almost total domination.

While we do not believe that Mercedes is in for the long haul, and that Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda will soon seek to cash in their stakes, someone a little less sceptical might look at Ecclestone's comments and conclude that they are intended to devalue the sport at a time Liberty Media is in the process of buying it.

Whilst Liberty might accept the loss of Mercedes could it really handle Ferrari walking away?

And as it seeks more races, including a night race in Las Vegas, the sport's supremo is warning of at least three events being dropped in addition to the original night race.

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Published: 20/11/2016
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