Still F1's crown jewel

Still F1's crown jewel
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone (right) chatting with hotelier Ong Beng Seng, who was instrumental in bringing F1 to Singapore in 2008.

Its position as the only full night race on the Formula One calendar may be under threat, with Bahrain Grand Prix organisers also planning to hold their race under the lights next year.

However, the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix's status as one of the sport's marquee events remains undiminished, according to F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

When asked on Saturday by The Sunday Times if Bahrain's night-race intentions would steal the Republic's thunder, Ecclestone's reply was a simple "no".

"Why should it?" the 82-year-old continued. "Yours is a fantastic event.

"Just because it's a night race doesn't mean anything. Don't worry about it."

Ecclestone is not the only seasoned F1 observer who believes that Bahrain's move - made to mark the race's 10th edition - poses little threat to the Singapore race's reputation.

Mathias Brunner, F1 editor of Speedweek.com, noted how the Marina Bay Street Circuit's locale - right in the heart of a bustling business hub - makes for "a dream combination".

"No other venue combines a superb city, where tourists can have a look around town and businessmen can have meetings all day long, with the race," noted Brunner, who has covered over 400 grands prix.

The Bahrain race, on the other hand, takes places in a dedicated motor-sports facility located in the middle of a desert.

"It's zero competition," Brunner stressed. "Tell me, how many businessmen fly to Bahrain for meetings unless they specialise in the Middle East? I don't know too many."

Fans have also taken notice of the race. From 2008 to last year, the Singapore GP attracted 430 million television viewers worldwide in total.

F1 drivers, too, have waxed lyrical about the race, despite its physically demanding nature.

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