Malaysia to pull out of F1 af­ter 2018

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

MALAYSIA will dis­con­tinue its For­mula One Grand Prix race af­ter 2018 due to fall­ing rev­enues, a gov­ern­ment min­is­ter said yes­ter­day, wav­ing the check­ered flag on one of Asia’s long­est-run­ning F1 races.

The eco­nomic prob­lems be­set­ting the sport are tak­ing too much of a toll and Malaysia will not renew af­ter its cur­rent con­tract ex­pires in two years, Tourism and Cul­ture Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said.

“We spend RM300 mil­lion per year but are not get­ting 300 mil­lion back,” Nazri told Ber­nama.

“There are no re­turns on the F1 Grand Prix.”

He noted that at­ten­dance had de­clined de­spite the high cost of stag­ing the race, which has been held at the Sepang cir­cuit near Kuala Lumpur since 1999.

“I think the peo­ple have lost in­ter­est,” he said.

For­mula One races are of­ten run at a loss but they are at­trac­tive to many cities be­cause of their prestige and ex­po­sure to global au­di­ences.

Malaysian of­fi­cials have said Sepang, which can ac­com­mo­date 120,000 fans, drew just 45,000 to last month’s grand prix, and added that race-day TV rat­ings were also poor.

The Sepang race, known for its trop­i­cal down­pours and sauna-like con­di­tions, is Asia’s sec­ond-old­est next to the Ja­panese Grand Prix, which dates back to 1976.

But Sin­ga­pore, which hosted the first F1 race un­der flood­lights in 2008, quickly out­stripped Sepang in terms of spec­ta­tors.

Sepang has also failed to match the lively en­ter­tain­ment and con­certs at Sin­ga­pore’s down­town race, of­fi­cials said.

This year’s Sin­ga­pore race saw an av­er­age of 73,000 spec­ta­tors at­tend for each of the three days of the race week­end.

By con­trast, Malaysia’s Mo­toGP at Sepang is con­sis­tently pop­u­lar and this year’s race was sold out. Sepang agreed last month to ex­tend the Mo­toGP un­til at least 2021. – AFP

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