Saturday, May 12, 2007

Day and night

Singapore has scored a big coup in the Formula One arena although it's a latecomer in the game.

The government announced yesterday that Singapore will host the F1 race for five years from 2008 onwards, pitching it as the first-ever night race in the world. The race will be based on a street circuit as seen in the map in The Business Times today.

But there is also a sense that all the parties have not ironed out all the kinks in the rush to wrap up the deal. For instance, maverick businessman and race promoter Ong Beng Seng was cited in BT as saying there are problems related to 'the money part' -- the street circuit and leakages from buildings around the route. Leakages refer to the problem of people who don't buy a ticket but instead watch the race from a hotel room or even from the many offices overlooking the city circuit.

Another big headache could be the timing of the race. All the race promoters have so far positioned the Singapore F1 as the first-ever night race.

But Singapore's Minister of State for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran has added a qualifier that could prove problematic to the F1 calendar.

"We will proceed with a night race only if the safety and operational requirements of all parties are fully met. If not, we will revert to a day race."

Formula One Management boss Bernie Ecclestone was quick to dismiss the possibility of day race.

"I think we can stop discussing the possibility of the race during the day. I've spoken to the people who have been checking things out and we have no doubt that there has been no problem at all with the safety."

Why is Bernie so adamant in having night racing despite valid concerns about safety?

At the same time, nearby Malaysia is also exploring the possibility of night racing at its closed circuit in Sepang when its current contract expires in 2010. Malaysia, which has been hosting F1 since 1999, will sign its new contract in the next few weeks.

While Singapore has clinched the right to host the prestigious event, it's still unclear if Singapore will indeed clinch the honour of being the first venue to have night racing for cars zooming at 300km per hour.

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