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Singapore To Host Night Race In 2008

Singapore To Host Night Race In 2008

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.

Spa Francorchamps Rebuilds The PitlaneQuite 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.

Oliver White

5 comments

  • It’ll be interesting to see how they go about allaying the fears on safety – are they proposing a night-test somewhere or what exactly?

    No doubt it will cost a fortune to set up somewhere with sufficient lighting to ensure the safety of all concerned, but I think most would agree that there has to be a test somewhere prior to letting 22 cars loose in the dark on a strange circuit!

  • Hehe, they could all descend on a local Tesco car park to practice if they wanted.

    In all seriousness though, it is a fair point. I can’t imagine the circuit being completely dark, as the lighting they vaguely speak of will simulate daylight conditions. But it still won’t be the same as driving at Midday, so I guess they should probably have a test somewhere. I cannot think of any circuit that has lighting except for maybe some ovals in America. In fact, Indianapolis may have lighting on the infield…?

  • I don’t know to be honest, but if anyone is going to have a fully lit track it’s bound to be the Americans!

    British Touring Cars have held night races in the past I think, not sure if they still do or not. The obvious difference between this type of car and F1 cars are that they already have lights fitted – same with cars at Le Mans, and indeed rallying.

    It would be an interesting challenge for Adrian Newey etc if they were forced to take those huge light pods you see strapped to WRC cars and get them integrated into their super-streamlined F1 creations!

  • My best friend is Singaporean, and she kept telling me that there was no way the Singaporean government would spend so much money on an F1 race. Evidently the government aren’t worried about the race fees (yet…)

    The night race problem is interesting, and I do like craigblog’s point about integrating car lights and aero. It’s surely the safest solution, since the drivers are going to need the light where they are immediately headed, rather than every whatever-distance-lights-are-in-Singapore. Otherwise, one oil spill or loose drain cover could cause serious safety problems. The point about a night test being needed first almost goes without saying, since few on the grid have done a night race in any car before.

    As for the calender, we have a definite logjam approaching. Most races are contractually bound to race in 2008, so the only legal candidates for dropping are France (certain, since the FFSA previously asked for Magny-Couers to be dropped for financial reasons) and the USA (unlikely unless F1 does something dumb enough for the USA to dump F1 e.g. repeat Indy 2005). As a result, we are looking at 19 races next year. 2009 is more complicated, but since Bernie wants more races on the calender, there probably will be more races on the calender…

  • I fear the calendar may be more jammed than 19 as well. I’m not sure what the contractual obligations are regarding San Marino, but it could be that it was only dropped while the building work was happening. For sure they are going to want to come back in ’08.

    I for one will want to see Suzuka make a come back. At the moment I’m saying an Asian/Pacific Grand Prix, but if Fuji turns out to be boring, I will want the Japanese race to go back to the Honda-owned track.

    It could be a 20 or 21 race calendar next year. But if that happened I would revel in it!

    As for lighting? Just tape a couple of maglites to either side of the drivers helmet and tell them to get on with it.

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