Malaysia will no longer host the Formula One (F1) Grand Prix race in Sepang once the current contract expires in 2018, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said.
Nazri Aziz said this is primarily due to reasons such as the high cost of hosting the race without justifiable returns to the country, as well as a drop in ticket sales and TV viewing figures, according to several local media reports.
According to Malaysia’s New Straits Times, Nazri told reporters at Parliament lobby yesterday that the current agreement will run from 2016 to 2018 and once that comes to an end, there will be no more F1 races in Malaysia, “F1 attendance is dropping and there is less attraction now. We are spending RM300 million a year (for the race).”
A+M has reached out to the Tourism and Culture Ministry for a statement.
Nazri also said he agreed with Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who openly expressed his support last month for a temporary halt to the country organising said event.
Jamaluddin said in late October that the development of local talent in motorsport is more important than pumping in large amounts of money to organise an F1 event which is no longer profitable.
Instead, he explained, Malaysia’s existing motorsport talents such as Akash Nandy, Jazeman Jaafar and Nabil Jeffri should be getting more attention on sponsorship to further develop their careers, “They have the potential, but no one is willing to sponsor them, when at the same time the government spends a large amount sponsoring a race which no longer brings returns, both sporting-wise or economically.”
The news comes shortly after similar reports on neighbouring country Singapore when F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told a German magazine that the city state no longer wants to host the grand prix after its current deal expires next year.
Without either country hosting the F1, the region will be without the prominent British car race for the first time since 1998.
Ecclestone, however, did clarify during a phone interview with Singapore’s The Straits Times yesterday that he still hopes discussions on keeping the race in Singapore will be “sorted out.”
“Everybody is happy to be in Singapore. Negotiations are ongoing and will be sorted out shortly.[…], before the end of the year, I’m sure. We want to extend long term. We’ll see what happens,” he added.
According to Reuters, the Singapore race costs approximately S$150 million to put on every year, 60% of which is funded by the government.