Malaysian Grand Prix (GP) will retire after its 20th anniversary at Sepang on 2018. The Malaysian government has declared that they won’t be renewing the contract when its current deal expires.
“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.” Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, country’s tourism minister said, as reported by ESPN.
Malaysian GP has seen falling attendances in recent years. The 2016 edition of the event saw only 60 percent of the total capacity crowd turn up.
The 2016 attendance was the lowest since the event joined the F1 calendar in 1999. The Straight Times have reported a fall of 10 percent every year in terms of attendance.
Aziz confirmed the decision of not renewing the Malaysian GP due to financial reasons. He also cited people losing interest. However, the minister was quick to note that this is not a phenomenon unique to Malaysia.
“I don’t think there is anywhere in the world where the number of spectators for F1 has increased” Aziz added, according to Autoweek.com.
What next for the Sepang International Circuit?
Video courtesy: YouTube.com/Races Channel
Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz confirmed that the interest in Moto GP is on the rise. This is in comparison to the F1 race whose popularity has taken a nose dive in recent years.
If the minister’s words are to be believed, then the Sepang International Circuit will have the Moto GP as their major international event.
The circuit also hosts the Sepang 12 Hours (formerly known as Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race). It is a 12 hours endurance event held annually since 2000.
Malaysia will also look to produce more F1 drivers in the future to rise interest in the sport. Alex Yoong is the only F1 driver produced by the nation until now.
Yoong raced for Minardi between 2001 and 2002.
Photo courtesy: mondayblues/Wikipedia