Fate of Sepang F1 race to be known end of the week


KUALA LUMPUR: The fate of the Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) will likely be known by the end of this week, said SIC Chief Executive Officer Razlan Razali.

He said there would be a special meeting to discuss the matter with SIC’s major stakeholder, the finance ministry, on Thursday.

“The F1 ticket sales here have gone down since 2014.

“In contrast, the Malaysia Motorcycle GrandPrix (MotoGP) looks more promising in terms of attracting spectators and its potential spillover effects,” he said at a media briefing here today.

Razlan, however, said he would be in no hurry to issue an official announcement of the discontinuation of F1 in Malaysia as SIC has a “watertight agreement” with the licensed holders until 2018.

“A temporary withdrawal from F1 (after 2018) could be beneficial for the country to take a break.

“Currently, some say, the product (F1) is no longer exciting as it is being dominated by one team.

“An initial report for the last F1 race also showed that television viewership in Malaysia was the lowest in history,” he said, adding that Singapore’s F1 also reportedly registered a 20 per cent decline in ticket sales.

Razlan hinted at SIC focusing to develop the MotoGP.

MotoGP, the world’s biggest motorcycling event, was first staged at the Batu Tiga Circuit in Shah Alam in 1991 before shifting to the Pasir Gudang Circuit, Johor, in 1998.

The Sepang Circuit hosted its first MotoGP race in 1999.

This weekend, the Shell Malaysia MotoGP 2016, the 26th Malaysia MotoGP, is set to be another crowd-puller at SIC, following on the heels of last year’s sellout silver jubilee race.

“Last year, we saw 85,000 spectators for our MotoGP.

“This year, as all the tickets were already sold out, we target a record 90,000 spectators, inclusive of those from the hill stands.

“Moving forward, if all parties collaborate, inclusive of the ministries of tourism, sports and communication, we may improve further.”