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Sep 28, 2008
S'pore jewel in F1 crown
'Hopefully this will open people's eyes and they'll say, my God, Singapore really is alive and well,' said F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone. -- ST PHOTO: TERENCE TAN
FORMULA One supremo Bernie Ecclestone pushed hard to bring a night race to Singapore and on Sunday he described it as the jewel in the sport's crown.

The 77-year-old, renowned as a shrewd operator, has long worked to steer the glamorous sport towards Asia and the Middle East, and said the success of the Singapore spectacle on the city streets would open eyes.

When asked by the Straits Times newspaper here if Singapore could one day be the jewel in the crown, he replied, 'Why not? It more or less is now.'

Ecclestone continues to be bullish about Asia and the Middle East in the future development of the sport, seeing the untapped markets as critical to maintaining sponsor and spectator interest.

'For years I've been saying go East, not West,' he said.

With Singapore now on the calendar, Asia and the Middle East have six Grand Prix races - along with Australia, Bahrain, China, Japan and Malaysia being.

Abu Dhabi will make its debut next year with South Korea coming on board on 2010 and India, initially expected to stage a race in 2010, now slated for 2011.

Their inclusion comes at the expense of Formula One's traditional base in Europe as the sport aims for a more globalised calendar.

Ecclestone, the billionaire who holds Formula One's commercial rights, said Singapore was an example to follow and would make people reconsider their opinions of Asia.

'When you think about it, most parts of Asia where people have visited, they sort of put everything in one basket,' he told the newspaper.

'Singapore is the same as India, Malaysia and Thailand, that's how they feel because they don't know any better.

'But hopefully this will open people's eyes and they'll say, my God, Singapore really is alive and well.' -- AFP

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