Malaysia’s 19-year relationship with world’s premier racing tour has come to an end due to escalating costs and declining ticket sales
This year’s Malaysian grand prix, which will be held at Sepang International Circuit (SIC) on 1 October, will be the Southeast Asian nation’s last, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced today.
“The Cabinet has agreed to end the contract after considering lowering returns to the country compared to the cost of hosting the championships,” Najib said in a statement.
83,828 people visited the track during the three-day Grand Prix in 2016, according to SIC CEO Razlan Razali, markedly lower than the 123,000 that turned out in 2013.
Many believe that the glamour of the neighbouring Singapore Grand Prix has siphoned viewers away from Kuala Lumpur over the years, but the lion state is also seeing declining interest in the sport.
Bernie Ecclestone, the outspoken former Formula One chief executive, has warned that Singapore could soon follow in Malaysia’s footsteps.
“Look at what we have done for Singapore,” Ecclestone said in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport, according to a Reuters report.
“Singapore was suddenly more than just an airport to fly to or from somewhere. Now they believe they have reached their goal and they do not want a grand prix anymore.”