The deal for the Malaysian Grand Prix will not be extended beyond 2018 and will take the race off the Formula 1 calendar, according to the country’s tourism and culture minister.
The Sepang International Circuit is actually one of the few good Hermann Tilke-designed track layouts, but that hasn’t been able to stop poor attendance and TV viewing figures in Malaysia.
With F1 races being notoriously expensive to stage and host, it seems Malaysia doesn’t feel a grand prix is worth it anymore and isn’t keen to increase the length of its contract, which runs until 2018.
Here’s what Malaysia’s tourism and culture minister Nazri Abdul Aziz is quoted as saying by local media:
“The current agreement is from 2016 to 2018. So once that ends, there will be no more [F1].
“F1 attendance is dropping and there is less attraction now. We are spending RM 300 million a year [$97 million]. The cost of hosting F1 has increased 10-fold compared to the first time it was held.”
It comes after Singapore expressed a desire to bin its F1 race too, according to Bernie Ecclestone.
F1 has visited Malaysia every year since 1999 and the circuit has produced quite a few memorable moments, usually involving wet weather and storms (or, on the odd occasion, team orders).
But the local interest in F1 just hasn’t been there, with Sepang looking to focus on the more popular MotoGP race. So, it looks like we could well see Malaysia fall off the calendar after two more grands prix.