It has been confirmed today that Singapore will host Formula One’s first ever night race in 2008. Pencilled in for September or October, the rumour has been circulating for some time now. But in a press conference held earlier, Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that a new street circuit in the South East Asian country will go ahead.
This news follows yesterdays announcement that Valencia will also stage a round of the 2008 World Championship, and Abu Dhabi will host a Grand Prix in 2009. While nothing has been said about the calendar for next year, it is already looking quite crowded. Not that a crowded calendar is a bad thing, as more races means a longer and potentially more exciting season.
I am very pleased to welcome Singapore to the Formula One family and we look forward to this exotic addition to the championship. This will be the first fully lit street race in Formula One. As a night race we anticipate it will quickly establish itself as one of the most dramatic and atmospheric races on our calendar. I know the Formula One drivers, teams and fans are all looking forward to coming to Singapore next year. Bernie Ecclestone.
The circuit will be placed in the Marina Bay area of the city, and strong lighting will be used to simulate day time conditions. The race will help the lagging viewer numbers at the fly away races. The season openers in Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain get fewer viewers because of the time they are broadcast to European nations – the main audience for Formula One. With the night race though, the live viewing should be at a more comfortable afternoon slot.
We envision it [the Grand Prix] to be a national festival, and one that presents many opportunities for participation for everyone, both visitors and Singaporeans alike. Mr S Iswaran – Singapore’s Minister of State for Trade and Industry.
Safety will be a paramount factor, as it is with all motorsports, and many drivers have already come forward to voice their concerns over the risks involved with night races. However, racing regularly occurs in dusk conditions, with 24 hour races remaining popular with fans at Le Mans and in America.
Quite where this leaves next years calendar is anyone’s guess. Spain is confirmed as holding two races now, Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain have all got new contracts, and Turkey and China will surely hold Grands Prix. France was struck off earlier in the year, and Bernie Ecclestone has been mounting pressure on Silverstone owners, the BRDC to improve the facilities or face losing the race. San Marino will be hoping for a comeback after the facilities at Imola have been improved, and Spa will likely be retained. Monaco has an almost guarantee to hold a race, and Germany have signed a contract which sees them alternate the German event between their two big circuits.
America has only signed a deal for one more year, if my memory serves me correct, but Bernie will want to keep his foot in with the US as the market there is potentially huge for his bank balance. That leaves Britain, Canada, Hungary and Italy all possibly without a race. Of course, it is perfectly sensible to suggest that the season will be made longer, which will be welcomed by fans for sure. I cannot believe for a moment that Italy would lose a race, but Bernie has said very little about Hungary. In fact they are so quiet about their event that I don’t even know how long their contract is for.
I’m sure more details will follow in time, and the 2007 schedule was released very early last year, so hopefully the wait will not be too long.