Does Bernie Ecclestone want the Singapore GP to be the new Monaco?

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Singapore - nice, but not a new Monaco
Singapore - nice, but not a new Monaco

Frank Williams joined the chorus of approval for last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix:

It has a good chance of challenging Monaco for being the jewel in the crown of Formula One. That is the most accurate thing to say. They have great weather, a very good track, and the grandstands packed. I think there is a lot of enthusiasm out there.

With decades of experience in F1, Williams knows whereof he speaks. So could it be possible that Singapore might one day squeeze Monaco off the F1 calendar?

Too important to drop?

This may sound like thinking the unthinkable. Just as Ferrari is the iconic F1 team, Monte-Carlo is the iconic F1 circuit. It captures the world’s attention like no other Grand Prix, except those fortunate enough to hold championship-deciding races at the end of a season.

It is a vital link with the sport’s history: it has been on the calendar every year except for a few occasions in the 1950s.

Money talks

But history alone is not enough to keep a race track on the F1 calendar. The circuit that held the first ever round of the F1 championship – Silverstone – is being dropped in 2010. As far as Bernie Ecclestone is concerned, heritage is bunk compared to the allure of the Almighty Dollar. And there is a powerful economic incentive for him and his CVC backers to drop Monte-Carlo.

Monaco is the only race on the calendar whose organisers – the Automobile Club de Monaco – retain the right to sell advertising hoardings around the track. At every other venue their contract with Ecclestone stipulates that Allsport (which is owned by Ecclestone’s Formula One Group) has the right to sell advertising space around the track over the Grand Prix weekend.

The thought of a few million dollars a year passing him by probably doesn’t sit too well with Ecclestone. So if he can’t persuade Monaco to give up the trackside advertising rights, why not arrange a new street race in an exotic country next to a large body of water? If Europe’s millionaires don’t want to sail their yachts all the way to Singapore they can always drop anchor in Valencia.

I liked the Singapore race but I don’t want one of F1’s classic venues to be squeezed out because of it. Still I can’t help but think, to F1 people, this kind of reasoning might make sense.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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28 comments on “Does Bernie Ecclestone want the Singapore GP to be the new Monaco?”

  1. At the first hint of the Monte Carlo GP being dropped every F1 fan in the world should take direct action. It’s one thing dropping Silverstone, which hasn’t always held the British GP anyway, but Monte Carlo is sacrisant and shouldn’t be messed with. Under any circumstances!

  2. Yep, I think ultimately when Bernie weighs up the various options at his disposal, and where his target audience is, and what hospitality is available around the circuit, he will decide against the majority of the European tracks, and switch the whole F1 circus to the Middle East and Asia. I don’t think Austrailia will be able to guarantee a place either unless they get into line.
    Who knows, this may see the beginnings of a rival Euro Series, using the circuits that Bernie ignores!

  3. Jonesracing82
    2nd October 2008, 8:30

    highly doubtful Monaco will b dropped!
    it’s the one race all race drivers would prefer to win over any!
    even thier home gp!
    i know history alone isnt enuff but it should be!

  4. Well, I do doubt that Monaco will be dropped. Bernie will just persuade the organizers to pay him a couple more millions and that would be it. And the Prince will be happy to do it, as losing F1 will mean losing some allure of the whole place. Therefore, I do not see an F1 calender without the Monaco Grand Prix on it. But who am I to know?

  5. it’s the one race all race drivers would prefer to win over any!
    even thier home gp!

    For some it is their home GP

    You’d need to give Singapore a few years and then maybe Bernie will throw in the option. I wouldn’t want to see it removed off the calendar but every race has been threatened to be removed by Bernie so I just wouldn’t be surprised anymore.

  6. No-one can re-create a Monaco Grand Prix. Not even Bernard Charles Ecclestone.

    It’s not all facilities, hospitality, style or whatever — Monaco is also about history, legacy. You can’t create that for a new race, you ‘earn’ in 80-odd years.

    It’s the same with other great races, like a new Indy 500 or a new Le Mans. Forget it.

  7. They wouldn’t drop Monaco – it’s the highest profile event of the year, and the paddock is filled with movies stars popping over from Cannes etc. There’s too much money and glamour in Monaco. As KingCobra says above, it’s just a wedge for Bernie to get more money.

    But Singapore was a good track and looked very scenic etc. I like the fact that the circuit was bumpy and the race nearly touched 2 hours – it was an endurance race, as opposed to a 1.5 hour sprint around some soulless track in the middle of nowhere that had 18 cars finishing. F1 tracks should challenge the cars and drivers.

  8. Although there is one difference in that I wouldn’t mind if Ferrari dropped off the face of the earth.

    To remove Monaco from the F1 calendar should be punishable by death, though.

  9. The history of the place is very important and all drivers would dearly like to win there, it’s an entirely seperate achievement from winning anywhere else, and of course some say it forms part of the “triple crown” of open wheel motor racing achievements to win there.

    Of course this is beside the point when money is talking, but I would be amazed if the Monaco leaves the calendar. There is a whole lot of money floating around that principality and people with that money will be keen to keep the race, even if Bernie decides he must extract another few million from them.

  10. @ ajokay

    Although there is one difference in that I wouldn’t mind if Ferrari dropped off the face of the earth.

    That’s only your opinion… ;) F1 need Ferrari, just like Ferrari needs F1.

    Back on subject, though: I’d like to see the FIA step in to protect the old Grandes Épreuves from being dropped: besides Monaco, Great Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, and, although that’s a bit too late, now, Switzerland. Those races link F1 to it’s Grand Prix racing heritage.

  11. Monaco and Singapore can co-exist side-by-side. Both should stay on the calendar because both have something unique to offer to F1 and its fans.

    Bernie will NEVER remove Monaco, trust me. Maybe his successor after he moves on, but not him. :)

    Singapore video is up on Interesting song choice, to say the least, but it worked out very well indeed. Nice video from them, as always. :)

  12. Monaco will stay. But can’t be so sure about other European tracks..

  13. If Singapore a) builds another track and b) decides to join the civilised world… well, they still won’t be half as interesting as Monaco.

  14. Santori – “Decides to join the civilised world” – What do you mean by that?

  15. Alianora La Canta
    2nd October 2008, 12:49

    Keith, I think santori was making a veiled reference to Singapore’s choice of political regime. There are worse ones out there, but there are a fair number of issues where Singapore is much more restrictive than anywhere in the world. The waiver that the drivers had to sign in order to be able to use tear-off visors is the tip of the iceberg.

    I don’t know whether Singapore is ready to host a Grand Prix. Not because of the nature of the circuit, but the nature of the marshalls. I would advise the powers-that-be to get that sorted first so that there can be a smooth-running race first, and then worry about whether Singapore can be the new Monaco.

  16. The waiver that the drivers had to sign in order to be able to use tear-off visors is the tip of the iceberg.

    I hadn’t heard about that! That’s pretty extreme…

  17. Yes, I can’t be happy that F1 works with governments like that of Singapore. There are certainly worse countries but I find Singapore particularly frustrating. Perhaps because its wealth leads other countries to overlook its brutality? An entire society forcibly wrapped in cling-film.
    And it could be such a fascintating place.

  18. Keith – I had mentioned in my other post on response to “Should there be other Night Race”. These kind of ventures are possible in other 2-3 places Singapore, China, Gulf countries. In democracies, the residents, environmentalists will block these ventures.

    Coming back to will Singapore replace Monaco – The answer is yes Remember this quote –
    “If Bernie wants, Bernie Can” – Anon

  19. No way. Monaco can’t be replaced by any other circuit. I’t may not be the best circuit but there are memories on every corner that are irreplaceable.

  20. Too Good – Abu Dhabi is considering it: story

  21. Keith – True Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai ,in fact any state controlled system will serve Bernie’s purpose well.

    Isn’t it coincidental, Sport ruled in Autocratic manner, will synergize with venues autocratically ruled

    Another Irony is Smart brains(Designers, and Engineers) working hard to come up with technological innovations to serve at autocratic sport :D. Never spotted the word Auto in Autosports has this connotation ;)

  22. Monaco won’t get dropped, but Singapore can become the Monaco of the East. I think that’s been Bernie’s vision all along.

    Not to say Bernie won’t continue his extortionate negotiating tactics with Monaco and others.

  23. I’ve heard rumblings about Monaco being dropped before if one of these new harbor-based venues develops into a glitz and glamour show and produces half-decent racing, but I still can’t see it happening for the foressable future. If Bernie likes and enjoys a venue, then it stays, and by all accounts I read he values Monaco enough. On the flipside though, a development like Singapore surely won’t be in danger of being dropped anytime in the future. So I think for now, at least, they both stay.

    Lustigson- Very good point about not being able to recreate historic and irreplaceable races. Don’t forget that the CART/Champ Car folks tried that back in 1996 by running the “U.S. 500” as a rival to the Indy 500, even running it in the same region (Midwest US) and time slot (Memorial Day Weekend) as Indy. And as we can all see now, that diden’t turn out so well…..

  24. I didn’t like the Singapore track much. The cars looked cramped inside the concrete walls and the chicanes felt very artificial. They talk about sold out grand stands, but as a tv-spectator I could (unlike many other races) feel nothing of this. They could just as well have raced in front of empty seats.

    The night race concept is fun, but the quality of the on-board cameras was less than stellar and I found it difficult to separate the cars. They all looked very similar in these lighting conditions, especially from the helicopter shots.

    To me, Singapore wore the emperors new clothes… :(

  25. They would need a very good financial analysis to come to the conclusion of removing Monaco. The heart/soul it conveys does effectively spread out to F1 itself, how much $ is that worth? hard to put in numbers but i’m sure someone is looking into it.
    That being said everybody but a few Ferrari fans loved Singapore, as it is of course very hard to remain objective given the circumstances.
    This visor thing, what is that about? is it regarding the tint % or reflectiveness of it?

  26. Monaco should stay in.
    New tracks like Valencia and Singepore are “financial succes” but from a F1 fanatic point of view, so boring!! Bernie should take this on account.

  27. I am not utterly convinced that Monaco will get dropped from the calender, for the simple reason that it attracts so much glitz and glamour, hence attention, to Formula One. In my personal opinion, if any European race were to be converted to a night time event, then Monaco would be an ideal choice.
    I agree fully though that history is not something that seems to bother Ecclestone greatly, but as I and others have mentioned previously, circuits such as Silverstone and Magny Cours have been under threat for many years. Twenty years ago, everybody would have called you bonkers if you suggested that a track like Imola would not make it onto the calender, or that Hockenheim would be reconfigured.
    The bottom line is always going to be down to cash, and putting the most bums on seats. Interestingly, I have read reports in the media that both the Sepang and Manama races were both down in spectator numbers this year, and these are both new circuits in supposedly lucrative areas for Formula One.
    For F1 to leave Monaco and simular to NASCAR turning its back on Daytona or the IRL on Indianapolis. I really think that these rumours are being delibrately leaked by Ecclestone’s people to ‘bend’ the Monaco organisers to his will. Strong arm tactics if you like.
    I just can’t see Ecclestone sticking his neck out too far on this one, especially as Monaco is so popular with the drivers and the teams. Alot of people in the paddock have openly criticised Silverstone in the recent past, so the circuits predicament isn’t all down to Bernie Ecclestone.

  28. My guess is that this is just Bernie trying to get some more money out of the Monaco GP.

    He’s seen there’s money to be made from races in the east so he’s using the threat of dropping a few other races to get some more money out of the ones that get to keep their GP’s.

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