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Night GP confirmed
Formula One to race under lights for the first time in Singapore next September
26 Oct 2007
FORMULA One authorities have confirmed that Singapore will hold the historical first Grand Prix under lights on September 28 next year.
The World Motor Sport Council met this week in Paris and ratified the 2008 calendar, which also confirms that the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne will return to its traditional place as the opening round on 16 March.
Singapore will host the race under lights on a five-kilometre street circuit laid out in the city’s Marina Bay district.
Italian company Valerio Maioli will erect almost 1500 high-powered lights four metres apart around the perimeter of the circuit, making it four times brighter than the average sports stadium. Contractors will begin the three-month set-up in January.
Lighting tests have been conducted at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France, where some of the F1 teams regularly test.
The Singapore GP will be the first Asian F1 street race and the circuit will be one of only three in the world to run anti-clockwise, with 24 turns and a main straight along Raffles Boulevard. The track will also cross the Singapore River via a 97 year-old bridge.
Having a night GP in Asia will enable the race to be televised during the daytime in Europe rather than the middle of the night, which will increase ratings and TV revenues for the teams and organisers as well as broadcasters.
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said he is “excited about the idea” of the first Grand Prix under lights and has agreed to a five-year deal, with a five-year option to take the race to 2017.
“I am very pleased to welcome Singapore to the F1 family and we look forward to this exotic addition to the championship,” said Ecclestone.
“This will be the first fully-lit street race in F1 and, as a night race, we anticipate it will quickly establish itself as one of the most dramatic and atmospheric races in our calendar.” Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister, S Iswaran, said the race would help the country become a “vibrant, global city,” but warned that it would revert to a daylight race if there were any safety concerns.
“Safety is of paramount importance to all of us,” he said. “Therefore we will proceed with a night race only if the safety and operational requirements of all parties... are fully met. If not, we will revert to a day race format.” Australian driver Mark Webber assessed the Singapore street circuit in March, but expressed reservations about lighting and the effect of rain, which could create glare in dark conditions.
Mr Iswaran said that the hosting rights had been granted to Singapore GP Pte Ltd, a company controlled by hotel tycoon Ong Beng Seng.
The government is believed to have committed to covering 60 per cent of the costs of staging the event.
Interestingly, Mr Iswaran attended university and completed an economics degree in Adelaide, where the Australian Grand Prix was held from 1985 to 1995.
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