Singapore will host Formula One races until 2021

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen steers his car during a practice session. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)

Singapore will continue to host Formula One races until 2021 after agreeing on a four-year deal on Friday.

The street circuit, which has unique appeal as a night race, first hosted a race in 2008.

"We are incredibly happy to announce this extension and very proud of our partnership," F1 chief executive Chase Carey said at a news conference at the racetrack. "The Singapore race is clearly a signature event, the spectacular skyline of Singapore lit up at night (with) a crowd that’s truly from around the world. It’s really our gateway into Asia, which is an incredible region to our future and our growth."

The motorsport series came under new ownership this year when the U.S. sports and entertainment firm Liberty Media bought out investment fund CVC Capital Partners, and Carey ended Bernie Ecclestone’s reign lasting nearly 40 years.

Carey has big plans to expand F1’s reach, both in terms of adding more races and increasing its digital appeal, an area largely neglected by Ecclestone.

"We’re in the early days of the plans we have for the future," Carey said. "Asia is tremendously important. Asia and the Americas are truly unique opportunities for us."

The Singapore GP has generated 1.4 billion in Singapore dollars (about $1 billion or 870 million euros) over the past decade.

Officials said on Friday that the cost of hosting the race has been reduced to S$135 million ($100 million or 84 million euros). During Ecclestone’s tenure, contract negotiations were often difficult for track owners struggling with rising costs and dwindling gates.

Singapore has considerable appeal as a popular tourist destination, with about "40 to 50 per cent of visitors (to the race) from overseas," said Lionel Yeo, the chief executive of Singapore’s tourism board.

There are no immediate plans to change or modify the five-kilometre (three-mile) track.

Because it is a street circuit, like the iconic Monaco GP, the planning implications could be troublesome if any changes were made.