Grapevine: Singapore Vying for F1 Street Race

Singapore has set its sights on landing a Formula One contract for 2007 after the green light was given this week for the design of a track running around the city's main streets

Grapevine: Singapore Vying for F1 Street Race

Matthew Lee, the president of Singapore's Motor Sports Association (SMSA) has already held meetings with the local tourism body, and a preliminary lay-out has been agreed for a 3.8 kilometres track. A longer 4.8km version is also a possibility if deemed necessary.

"We met with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) late last year to discuss it in a feasibility study group," said Lee, in an interview with Singapore's Electric New Paper. "And we've knuckled down the exact roads for a possible F1 street circuit since."

Lee has also had assistance in the design of the track from organisers of the Japanese GT Championship, who are keen to use the new track to host a round of their series.

And Lee admits that the key factor in whether the Singapore street track can land an F1 race will be if the tourism board are willing to bankroll the project.

"Money talks first, especially when it comes to Bernie Ecclestone," he said. "This is an open secret in the world of Formula One."

Lee estimates that the cost of the race would be around £7 million ($13.1 million USD) per year, with a £16 million ($30 million USD) set-up cost for the street track.

And although F1's newest venues have most recently been state-of-the-art purpose-built facilities, Lee believes that the prospect of a race in downtown Singapore would be taken seriously by F1's bosses.

"Unlike Monaco, there are enough long stretches," he explained. "Unlike Monaco, our roads are very wide. We have the widest roads in this region. This encourages more overtaking, which is rare for a traditional street circuit.

"But like Monaco, the corners are challenging enough and flanked by great landmarks. Even Macau, famous for its Formula Three races, is a very tight circuit.

"So from a technical driving point of view, Singapore has the potential to be one of the best and most exciting street circuits in the world."

If Lee's plans to land an F1 race do not come off, SMSA chiefs have suggested that they would be interested in an international Formula Three event.

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Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
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