F1: Even Bieber keen to ride on buzz

F1: Even Bieber keen to ride on buzz

When you have something that is a success, everybody wants to be a part of it. Even Justin Bieber.

That's right. The main reason the pop superstar is performing at the Padang on Monday, in the Formula One SingTel Singapore Grand Prix's first Closing Concert, is that he wants to. But as Michael Roche - executive director of race organiser Singapore GP - noted, it could have turned out very differently.

"Our target was to do an opening concert on Thursday," he told The Straits Times on Tuesday, in an hour-long interview at the Marina Bay Street Circuit's Paddock Club Lifestyle Area. "We were very close to having that but it slipped through at the last minute.

"The day that happened, Bieber's people called me and asked if there was any way we could get him onto the F1 ticket." While serendipity certainly played a part in how things worked out, the 19-year-old Canadian heart-throb's interest in being a part of it speaks volumes of how far the sport's only full night race has come in five short years. "This event has become a beacon of what Singapore's about," said Roche.

He knows this more than most. A native of Yorkshire, he has lived in the Republic for the better part of 24 years but on his returns to Britain, conversations inevitably turn to the race.

"Those magnificent shots of the city, the marina and all our buildings," he listed. "People say to me, this is made in Hollywood; you can't possibly live there."

The iconic visuals of cars racing down the pit straight with the Singapore Flyer twinkling in the background, however, tell just half the story.

When asked what the low points of his F1 adventure have been, Roche - one of the four men who entered into hosting rights negotiations with Formula One Management in 2006 - quipped: "I've had a million of them." "It's just an emotional roller coaster; even when I'm at home with my family, my mind is churning with hundreds of things." But the success which the Singapore race is enjoying has exceeded his wildest expectations.

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