Is the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix losing its appeal?


Source: TimeWerke Videos on YouTube.

The 11th Formula One Singapore Grand Prix was concluded on the night of 16 September 2018 with Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport claiming victory.

The Singapore Grand Prix first began in 2008 and critics have said that the race is losing its steam.

Singapore’s neighbour, Malaysia, had been hosting the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix since 1999. However, the final curtain for the Malaysian Grand Prix, staged in Sepang, came down in 2017.

Declining spectator numbers was the main reason. According to a September 2017 New Straits Times report, attendances at the Sepang Formula One race event and television viewership had been on the decline since 2014, the year the quieter 1.6-litre turbo-hybrid engines were introduced.

In 2016, the Malaysian Grand Prix received 46,944 visitors, slightly higher over the 2015 numbers but well off the 88,450 who turned up in 2013.

If general interest in the Grand Prix is waning, the annual race in Singapore is likewise, at risk.

Jacky Ickx was a former Formula One race driver. He had raced in the Formula One Grand Prix for Ferrari, Brabham, McLaren, Williams and Lotus. His Formula One racing career resulted in eight Grand Prix wins and 25 podium finishes. Ickx is also the six times winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and winner of the Dakar Rally in 1983. Photo: © TANG Portfolio/TimeWerke.

Motor racing fans and members of the public will determine whether the race is successful as they are the “engine” of that show, says Jacky Ickx, former Formula One race driver, six times winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and winner of the Dakar Rally in 1983.

Born in 1945 in Brussels, this Belgian raced in Formula One for Ferrari in 1968 and from 1970 to 1973. He had also raced for other Formula One teams such as Brabham, McLaren, Williams and Lotus. His Formula One racing career resulted in eight Grand Prix wins and 25 podium finishes.

Is the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix losing its excitement or is it evolving into something else?

The Formula 1 2018 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix attracted 263,000 visitors to the event over three days thanks to both on-track and off-track activities. Photo: © Singapore GP Pte Ltd.

This was the question we put to Ickx on Monday, 17 September 2018, a day after the conclusion of the Singapore Grand Prix.

Though he was “disappointed” with the 2018 Singapore night race itself, he still concluded that the Singapore Grand Prix “works”, as one will discover after viewing the video discussion with him (above).

Taiwanese singer and actor Jay Chou performing at the Formula 1 2018 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix. Photo: © Singapore GP Pte Ltd.

 

 

 

 

The Formula 1 2018 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix attracted 263,000 fans over three days (14 to 16 September 2018), according to the article “Hamilton cruises to victory as crowd numbers swell” published in The Straits Times on 17 September 2018.

Though this was below the highest attendance of 300,000 recorded during the inaugural night race in 2008, it was the second-highest of the 11 races (from 2008 to 2018).

What’s more, it was reported that the 2018 attendance represented a 3.5% increase over the average of the past 10 years.

Mick Hucknall of Simply Red performing at the Formula 1 2018 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix. Photo: © Singapore GP Pte Ltd.

What must be noted is that this annual race event is spread over three days with the final race on the third day. Furthermore, the event is complemented by entertainment such as music acts performed by British pop-soul band Simply Red, Taiwanese singer Jay Chou, British singer Dua Lipa and Scottish band Young Fathers, among others.

Michael Roche, managing director of Lushington Entertainment, the company responsible for bringing in the entertainment acts for the Singapore Grand Prix, had explained in the article “10 questions with Singapore GP’s Colin Syn and Michael Roche, as night race looks back on last decade” written by Low Lin Fhoong and published on Today Online that: “It’s the cross fertilisation [of racing and entertainment) that’s worked well.

“In the modern world, things can’t be too singular anymore. You have to give a broader experience. We say we’re [an event] for seven-year-olds to 77-year-olds and that’s what we’ve always done.”

British singer and model Dua Lipa performing at the Formula 1 2018 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix. Photo: © Singapore GP Pte Ltd.

Whatever it is, the Formula One event has thus far spelt financial success. Over the 10 years (2008 to 2017), the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix had attracted 450,000 international visitors to Singapore and generated SGD1.4 billion in incremental tourism receipts, according to Singapore’s then Minister for Trade and Industry, S. Iswaran. He is currently (at the time of writing) Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information.

As for the annual cost related to staging the Singapore Grand Prix, it is SGD135 million, down from SGD150 million.

References:
i. Reuters, We don’t want to host F1, even for free: Sepang Circuit CEO, 30 September 2017
ii. Wang Meng Meng, Hamilton cruises to victory as crowd numbers swell, The Straits Times, 17 September 2018.
iii. Low Lin Fhoong, 10 questions with Singapore GP’s Colin Syn and Michael Roche, as night race looks back on last decade, Today Online, 18 September 2018 (todayonline.com)