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Room for improvement at an already tremendous event

india Updated: Sep 25, 2012 00:58 IST
Joe Saward
Joe Saward
Hindustan Times
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The Singapore Grand Prix is a tremendous event - but it is not always a great race. In five years it has somehow managed to establish itself as a classic F1 venue - even if the races are a little processional.

For me, it was inconceivable that the contract would not be renewed, but the Singaporeans are great businessmen and even Bernie Ecclestone had to work hard to get the deal he was happy with.

"All of us like being here, which made it difficult for us to negotiate," Bernie admitted.

He was asked - by a rather naïve journalist - to give financial details of the new deal. The regular F1 guys chuckled at that and waited to see what The Bernard would say. He handled it with grace.

"I always believe that this sort of question should not be asked," he said.

"A gentleman should never speak about money, or last night."

Man with the facts
Sitting next to Bernie was Singapore's minister of trade, industry and education, S Isawaran who said that the event currently costs $120 million to host each year and explained that the government picks up 60% of the bill.

That is a lot of money compared to similar events elsewhere.

Down in Melbourne they get in a frightful flutter each year when it is revealed that Grand Prix cost the taxpayer $50 million, mainly because the local hacks forget to write that the race has economic benefits that offset the investment.

Whingeing is not the style in Singapore. It is a get up and go kind of place and they like to deal in facts.

Isawaran said that the race pulls in 150,000 additional visitors each year, and that generates tourism receipts of around $120 million, thanks in part to a whopping 30% levy on all hotel rooms within easy reach of the circuit. This means that the event costs Singapore nothing and all the intangibles such as image value and secondary receipts come for free.

The track might, however, be redesigned to make access a lot easier, and encourage overtaking. I think that will be great.

The writer has covered every grand prix for the last 25 years