F1 party can now carry on next door

Sepang International Circuit CEO Razlan Razali is happy sales have doubled as European fans coming to Marina Bay will also head north.
Sepang International Circuit CEO Razlan Razali is happy sales have doubled as European fans coming to Marina Bay will also head north.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN
PHOTO: REUTERS

Back-to-back S'pore and Malaysia GPs will be mutually beneficial, says Sepang circuit boss

In the hours after this year's Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix champion is crowned, the pits will be a flurry of activity with the various garages dismantling the cars and packing equipment into containers, ready to be transported to the next race.

But this year will be different. Instead of flying the cargo up to Japan's Suzuka circuit, as usual, a convoy of trucks will transport the circus north towards Kuala Lumpur, setting up road shows to promote the Malaysian Grand Prix as it trundles along.

For the first time, the Malaysian race, usually held in March after the season opener in Melbourne, will take place two weekends after the Singapore Grand Prix on Sept 18. Already, ticket sales for the Oct 2 race have doubled and Sepang International Circuit CEO Razlan Razali wants to synergise both races and extract the most out of them.

"On Monday after race day in Singapore, the F1 freight will be transported by road to the Sepang circuit with a detour to Johor, Malacca and Seremban, as part of our media activities leading up to the Malaysian GP," he said at a press conference yesterday at the Raffles Hotel to share his plans.

"It's going to be huge and historic - it's the first time it's been done in the region."

Although the final route has not been confirmed, he said the F1 motorcade will run for two to three days, making pit stops in various cities and states.

  • MALAYSIAN GP: 2013 ATTENDANCE

    123,400

    2014

    92,500

    2015

    80,604

Razlan hopes that the convoy will hype up the Malaysian GP, which has seen a 35 per cent decrease in spectators over the last three years.

Apart from road shows, the convoy will be accompanied by car clubs and police escorts to create more atmosphere.

"We're going to make it a huge spectacle," he said.

While 123,400 spectators watched the 2013 edition on race day, there were 92,500 in 2014, followed by 80,604 last year. But because the Singapore GP will be followed by the Malaysian race, ticket sales for Sepang have doubled this year as fans, especially those from F1 hotbed Europe, now have the option of extending their stay to catch both grands prix.

"By having both races back-to-back, we are making it more appealing for global fans - rather than competing for fans that come earlier in the year in March and those who come later in September, die-hard fans can stay in the region and watch two F1 races rather than one," Razlan said.

Fans can enjoy a party-heavy street race in Singapore, then move on to Malaysia for its race-track atmosphere.

And with Sepang having undergone a track renovation this year with changes to at least two turns to encourage overtaking, Razlan promises a high-octane show for the fans.

"There will be some unknowns for the teams and drivers as we've changed the dynamics of the circuit a little bit at the various turns.

"It'll be as if they've come to Sepang circuit for the first time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2016, with the headline 'F1 party can now carry on next door'. Print Edition | Subscribe