Decision pending on future of Sepang F1 race

KUALA LUMPUR • The fate of Formula One in Malaysia will be decided by Thursday, Sepang International Circuit (SIC) chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Razlan Ahmad Razali said.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Razlan said although SIC had a "watertight agreement" with the licence holders until 2018, a special meeting would be held with SIC's major stakeholder, the Ministry of Finance, with regard to the future of the sporting event in Malaysia.

F1 ticket sales for the event have been on the decline since 2014.

Razlan added that each year, sales had consistently fallen by 10 per cent.

Recently, sales only reached between 55 and 60 per cent. This is in contrast with the Moto GP, for which tickets are sold out, with the event expected to draw about 90,000 spectators this weekend.

Razlan also said that initial reports for the last F1 race showed that TV viewership in Malaysia was the "lowest in history".

This year, for the first time, the Malaysian Grand Prix was rescheduled and held on Oct 2, the weekend immediately after the Singapore Grand Prix.

"Maybe it will do Malaysia good to take a break. I think the product (F1) is no longer exciting. It's being dominated by one team," he said, referring to Mercedes' dominance in the past three seasons.

Razlan suggested that a temporary withdrawal from F1 could be beneficial for the country.

Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin echoed Razlan's words.

"I think we should stop hosting the F1. At least for a while. Cost too high, returns limited," he said on Twitter.

NEW STRAITS TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2016, with the headline 'Decision pending on future of Sepang F1 race'. Print Edition | Subscribe