SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines (SIA) has signed a deal to become the official title sponsor for the Formula One (F1) Singapore Grand Prix (GP).
Announced on Tuesday, the contract is for two years and comes with an option to extend the sponsorship.
SIA takes over from SingTel as the title sponsor of the race.
The organisers of the Singapore Grand Prix and SIA described the new partnership as a perfect fit.
Goh Choon Phong, chief executive officer of SIA, said: "F1 is a great brand, it's a well-known brand in sports circles, and it has international appeal. If you look at it the other way, SIA has a great brand, (and) SIA operates only internationally -- I think that's a great fit in that sense."
Michael Roche, executive director of Singapore GP, said: "There're only a few companies in Singapore, a Singapore brand that would really have the appetite or ability to take on this sponsorship. So therefore, it became a little bit easier."
The new sponsorship also marks the end of SingTel's six-year affiliation with F1's first ever night race.
Singapore GP declined to say why or who terminated the partnership.
SingTel had an original five-year sponsorship contract, and took the option to extend it for the 2013 race.
In a statement, it said it was honoured to have sponsored the race since 2008.
It called the partnership "fantastic", adding that it was pleased that another flagship local brand is taking over as title sponsor.
Allen Lew, chief country officer at SingTel, said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to showcase Singapore to the world, strengthening SingTel as a global brand and bringing the Formula One closer to Singaporeans with our activities. This has been a fantastic partnership and we are pleased to see that another flagship Singapore brand will be taking over the reins.”
Race officials declined to reveal the actual cost of the sponsorship, only saying that it was similar to what SingTel had paid.
Negotiations first took place at the end of the last Singapore Grand Prix, but things really took off in the last three to four months.
While no official figures are available, the annual sponsorship has been estimated to be in the region of S$15 million.
For regular F1 fans, it will be business as usual. No major changes are planned for this year's race, and that includes ticket prices.
Singapore GP said the government agencies it works with ensure that prices are maintained at a certain level.
Mr Roche said: "Overall, we try to maintain it, which isn't always easy, because at the end of every single event, by the next Monday or Tuesday, people say 'that was great -- how are you going to do better next year? What are you going to deliver more?' But we don't have the luxury of jacking up prices all the time."
The race will now be called the Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.
While it is a mouthful, organisers are looking on the bright side, saying it will reinforce the country's brand around the world. - CNA/ac/gn
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