Malaysia to pull out of F1 after 2018
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