Singapore Grand Prix attracts nearly 87,000 spectators in eighth year

Some 86,970 spectators thronged the Marina Bay street circuit to catch the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix, up slightly from last year and the third highest attendance for the race since Singapore started hosting the Formula One (F1) in 2008.

The race, which is now in its eighth year, saw its biggest crowds of 100,000 back at the inaugural night race. The second highest attendance was for the 2013 edition with some 87,500 attendees.

Concerns earlier in the week that the Singapore Grand Prix would have to be called off due to the heavy haze that was shrouding the city-state proved unfounded.

The 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI), which was in the lower end of the unhealthy range early Sunday morning, eased to the higher end of the moderate range throughout the day. The moderate range is 51-100 while the unhealthy range is 101-200. When the Grand Prix flagged off on Sunday night at around 8pm, the 24-hour PSI reading was at 74-87, while the three-hour PSI reading was at 74.

The stronger Singapore dollar also did not appear to make a significant dent in demand, race organiser Singapore GP said earlier in the week.

Tourists typically make up over 40 per cent of race-goers every year, hailing from markets such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines. The race is one of Singapore's marquee events, with incremental tourism receipts from the race weekend hitting some S$150 million annually, the Singapore Tourism Board estimated.

However, in past years, some retailers in the Marina Bay area have complained that the road closures in the lead-up to the race tended to dampen sales.

Among the visitors in town for the Singapore Grand Prix were tourists Maggie Hegyi and Juan Quiroga who flew into Singapore from Mexico. "I think this is one of the best races. The organisation, the night (race), the city," said Mr Quiroga, adding that this was his first trip to Singapore.

The iconic Singapore Girl was also broadcast to global viewers as stewardesses from Singapore Airlines (SIA) made an appearance on the starting grid on Sunday night. Last year, over 62 million global viewers tuned in to the 2014 race.

SIA, which has been title sponsor for two years now, recently announced that it would extend its sponsorship for another two years till 2017. Singapore is presently slated to remain a host venue until 2017.

Earlier in the week, Singapore GP said in response to queries from BT that it would begin consulting all relevant stakeholders in the coming months "to reach an informed and collective decision about any extension or otherwise".

This article was first published on Sept 21, 2015.
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