next F1 pit stop – singapore

Posted on May 11, 2007

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Formula One racers will have a new race location next year, but is it one with a higher safety risk?

After months of speculation and behind-the-scenes haggling over terms and conditions with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, Singapore’s finally clinched the deal to be the latest city added to the F1 circuit from next year.

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In a first for Formula One, it plans to hold races at night, in order to make broadcast times more accessible to its European audience and maximize viewership.

Teams and drivers have reportedly expressed reservations at the gimmicky idea.

No wonder, especially since Singapore’s race will be a 4.8 kilometre street circuit through the city’s central business district and downtown where a multi-billion dollar casino resort will be ready in 2009, instead of a custom-built track. The city-state is also prone to intermittent rain, especially during months in the later part of the year, when the race there is scheduled.

F1 cars do not have headlights and will be completely reliant on the circuit to be flood-lit for them to see clearly (some say the amount of electricity needed would be enough to light up a small country). After all, if you were ripping down the road at mind-boggling speeds of up to 230 miles per hour, you’d better be sure all the conditions are right.

Singapore’s prize comes in the wake of the sport’s governing body, Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, approving the increase in the number of races per season from 17 to 20. The FIA will also be the final authority giving the green light for staging a night race, although the Financial Times reported that it seemed unlikely.

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Gallo/ Getty image

Teams and drivers had already spoken out against the number of races per season, arguing for a shorter calendar after 2005’s grueling 19 races. More races also mean a heavier financial burden, even as teams face the loss of sponsorship from big tobacco with the ban on tobacco advertising on the cars recently coming into force.

Of course their calls have fallen on deaf ears. In this sport as with all others, cash considerations come first. Surveys show that F1 fans want more races, while the line for cities eager to host the Gran Prix gets longer every year, making the F1 races is one of the biggest televised sports. Looks like there would not be a reprieve soon for the teams and drivers.

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