Ticket sales not the only measure of F1 race success

Courtesy of TODAY:

The Formula One race here has brought glory to Singapore since its debut in 2008. In the first few years, the world was stunned by the beauty a night race could bring.

Legions of foreigners were impressed, and locals enjoyed it each time the race roared to life.

Whether or not this event will grind to a halt after the contract with rights holder Formula One Administration ends next year is anybody’s guess. I hope not, and I wish to mention some points about this annual event.

First, its success cannot be based solely on ticket sales but also on the number of locals and tourists in Singapore in the area at that time (“Economic downturn blamed for worst-ever F1 ticket sales”; Sept 20).

Initially, the onlookers were largely confined to the immediate precincts around Marina Bay, but casual observations point to a growing audience over the years.

In recent years, even visitors to Gardens by The Bay have started to crowd near the fringes of the race area, attracted by the loud noise of the racing cars.

On Saturday evening, I saw another crowd of curious onlookers, this time at the stadium area. Judging by their gaze in the direction of the circuit when the racing was on, I could tell that most of them were fascinated.

The F1 has served its purpose as far as local interest is concerned. So its raison d’etre is largely justified.

Second, though negotiations for a new agreement are still in the early stages, the relevant authorities would do well to think of ways to improve the X factor, to continue pulling in fans from across the globe.

Perhaps a contest can be held to get ideas that could be implemented for next year’s race. If they sell, then it would be easier when it comes to deciding whether to renew the contract or not.

It is incumbent on us to help the Singapore Grand Prix to continue to exist.