Weekend heralds final season of five-year contract
Singapore: Formula One chief Chase Carey challenged the “spectacular” Singapore Grand Prix to keep improving on Wednesday as he made positive noises about striking a new deal to retain the glittering night race.
Carey refused to discuss talks about the future of the street race, which snakes past the city’s landmarks and skyscrapers and is in the final season of its second five-year contract.
But Carey, speaking at the All That Matters conference ahead of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix, was highly complimentary of the event, suggesting that F1 is unwilling to let it go.
“I think it’s great,” the F1 chief executive and chairman said of Singapore, which was the first race he attended after America’s Liberty Media sealed its deal to take over the sport last year.
“Last year was the first time I was here and I thought it was spectacular. You can never rest on your laurels, so I think you’ve got to continue to find ways to make it fresh, make it new, so I think we have to continue to work. If you’re standing still, you’re going backwards.
“But I think Singapore, with such a spectacular skyline and the setting for that race, I think is something that will always capture people’s imagination.”
Discussions over Singapore continue as the long-standing Grand Prix in neighbouring Malaysia, which has been cut for cost reasons, prepares for its final race in two weeks’ time.
Carey said Singapore, which is known for its pop concerts and entertainment alongside the race, had been “ahead of the curve” in the drive to broaden the F1 experience beyond racing.
“We’re actively engaged with our partners here. It’s our goal to try and reach a new deal that enables us to continue. We’re proud of the race here, we have a good relationship,” he said.
“We haven’t concluded a deal yet but we’re having positive discussions and it’s certainly our goal to try and reach a deal that works for both of us.”
Carey said it was still “early days” for Liberty, which is setting about rebuilding Formula One after taking over from its flamboyant long-term ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone.
But he said China, which has a Grand Prix in Shanghai, was one area of focus as well as the United States. Liberty’s plans include potentially forming American, European and Asian sections of the season.
“Everybody talks about China, and obviously China and the US are the ones that get singled out as big huge, markets where we really are at the very early stages of tapping into potential,” Carey said.
However, Carey signalled there was unlikely to be any way back for the races in India and South Korea, which were both brokered by Ecclestone but foundered after just a few editions.
“We had a race in Korea, we had a race in India, but they were very much one-offs, deal of the day, as opposed to a commitment to really build and grow a sport,” he said.
Carey added: “Bernie and I used to have debates. Bernie used to say the sport needs a dictator, I’d say I think it needs a leader.”