Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yay! I Won A Broom!

The F1 fever is subsiding and life is going back to routine.

The local media have consistently reported a successful staging of the historical event. The F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said that the city was already the crown jewel of F1. The people I met are also raving about it. Just to be sure that the euphoria is not localised, I turned to the foreign media. Well, I heard the same accolades, too. Bravo, Singapore!

Everything seems just wonderful though understandably, there are some suggestions on how Singapore Grand Prix (GP) 2009 can improve.

I am in general agreement with the overall sentiment and together with millions of other viewers worldwide, I watched the event live on TV. However, at the award presentation, I was slightly taken aback by the look of the trophy on national TV.

I first saw the trophy when it was unveiled a week before the big race. My initial reaction was an inward exclamation as I went "Whoa! What was that!". Call me old fashion or unartistic, I am still struggling to accept the aesthetic qualities of the creation.

Made of pewter, aluminium and wood, the trophy is 58cm tall and weighs slightly over 5kg. It was presented to the unexpected winner F.Alonso by PM Lee and an identical trophy was also presented to the winning constructors (Renault). Two other smaller versions were presented to the second and third-placed drivers, N.Rosberg and L.Hamilton on the podium.

According to SingTel CEO Allen Lew, "The trophy had to represent Singapore in a simple yet elegant way, had to be contemporary, represent the sport in a creative way." and they want a design that was aligned to their event tagline of "Come Shape the Future of Racing".

The trophy was designed by Singaporean Zulkifle Mahmod, 33, who represented Singapore at the Venice Biennale last year and Royal Selangor was commissioned to make it. He wanted to break away from the conventional cup-shaped trophy and preferred to treat it as a sculpture piece. He drew his inspiration by walking around aimlessly on the streets, looking at people and things before he came up with this much talked about art piece.

The unusual design has attracted attention and won praises but I still do not like it. From the sample of comments, I know I am not alone.

"Like a tree or bush or upside down metallic broom."
"Like metal-plated empty toilet rolls."
"Creativity taken a step too far."
"Too edgy for a classic world-class event like the F1."
"It better remains as an art piece than a trophy."
"It is just ugly."

It seems that Singapore GP is not the only race with an issue with trophy. At the Italian GP just 2 weeks before the Singapore race, a little 'trophy talk' took place. It appears that the trophies that were presented to Monza GP winner Sebastian Vettel and his podium cohorts have contravened the 2008 F1 sporting regulations. Instead of looking traditional, they were in the shape of the logo of the race's title sponsor, Banco Santander (equivalent to SingTel in the Singapore GP).

In the 2008 sporting regulations, the FIA requires GP promoters to present trophies 'in the form of traditional cups'. I wonder how the design in Italy GP got through the FIA. If the regulations are allowed to be overlooked, I can expect more daring designs coming along.

I would have thought that commercialization of the event and the sacredness of trophy can be kept apart. If I were the race winner, I would not want to commemorate my victory with a commercial logo. On the other hand, one would have expected any commercial outfit to maximize their exposure after paying millions to earn the sponsorship title.
It would be interesting to see if SingTel will use a new design next year or perhaps, we will see a SingTel logo setting atop the new trophy?? (Oh no! Please don't)

So, for heaven's sake, whatever SingTel decides to do, please let the trophies be trophies and let the 'Uniquely Singapore' experience stay unique and not bizarre.


Other F1 Stories:

What Is The Vroom All About?

Be Sporty And Stay Alive!

No Vroom For Error

Night GP: A Novelty Or Necessity?

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