News Wrap, Week 29 – 30

First things first. I didn’t get around to posting last week’s news. That ‘real world’ out there got to me, and I ran out of time. I’m terribly sorry, though you and I both know that probably nobody noticed. In which case, we’ll just press on.
What did we miss? Well, not much, if I’m perfectly honest. There was that race in Singapore in which Sebastian Vettel didn’t win the championship. Don’t worry, that’ll happen soon enough. What else? There was some more speculation about Kim Raikkonen making a move back to Formula One after another disappointing round in the WRC. Lotus signed a deal for more Renault engines and Red Bull’s KERS system. Which is pretty cool, I suppose.
So, let’s see what we can find out there…
Future of the Singapore Grand Prix
It turns out it’s not only Melbourne with a group of people vehemently opposed to Formula One racing. Singapore, too, finds itself ambivalent over the extension of its contract as one of the sport’s highest profile races.

Game over for Singapore?

The current Singaporean contract expires at the end of 2014, with negotiations set to begin sometime next year. Presently, the night race costs around $115 million, with it making upwards of $130 million. Meanwhile, Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran purports (not unlike the AGPC in Melbourne) that the race makes significantly more than calculated. He puts long-term economic benefits closer to $400 million.
As we’ve established on Box Of Neutrals, asking any member of parliament, activist, or corporate figure to give you any objective, legitimate statistic is virtually impossible. Matters such as this are very much he-said-she-said scenarios. However, locals in the Grand Prix area of Singapore are reportedly fed up with the disruption to their business, roads and lives generally on an annual basis, and say that the benefit for them is minimal, especially when three-day tickets can be as pricey as $3,122. Ouch.
In its brief, four year history with Formula One, Singapore has fast established itself as one of the jewels in the sport’s crown. Dubbed by some as the Asian Monaco – which was indeed the intention by Ecclestone and co – it seems a generally well supported event. However, if it makes no economic sense, then it would be foolish for the city-state to renew its expensive contract. The racing’s not that great anyway.
Read more about it at the Wall Street Journal
Indian Grand Prix Tax
Formula One’s inaugural Indian Grand Prix remains at risk of being postponed as the teams continue to grapple with the Indian Government over the matter of tax.
Currently, the problem is this: Formula One is not being considered a sport of national interest by the government – a status which would ordinarily warrant tax exemptions and customs waivers for travellers. Instead, Formula One has been grouped into the ‘entertainment’ category, making the team liable for full import tax costs, despite them only shipping their equipment in and back out of the country within a matter of days.
Custom tax exemption laws and the like normally apply for sports, as most teams and other sport organisations need to import equipment for the event.
Currently, race promoter Jaypee Sports International is offering to pay for the customs costs – estimates placing the overall tax at around £1 million. This has yet to be agreed upon, however, and the matter remains unresolved.
And that’s that. More news next week, hopefully.

 You can follow me on Twitter, if you have nothing better to do: @MichaelLamonato


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