No more F1 races in Malaysia from 2018

Awaina Arbee

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will no longer host Formula One races beginning next year.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today announced that the Cabinet has agreed to end the contract to organise the F1 race from 2018.

This, he said, was done in view of dwindling returns for the country, compared to the cost of organising the event.

“In the early stages of its organisation here, the F1 races helped to promote the country as a world-class sporting destination, as well as promoting Malaysia as a global tourist destination.

“However, it is time that the government review the organisation of the F1 races by taking into account the changes which have taken place since we began organising it in 1999.

“This decision was made after taking into account reports and views from Sepang International Circuit (SIC) on the financial impact to all relevant parties,” he said in a social media posting today.

Najib said the government has to bear a high cost of organising the event annually. He noted that the returns from the event have been noticeably decreasing in terms of viewers, visitors and number of tourist arrivals for the races, since several years ago.

“In 1999, only 16 countries played host to the prestigious race, including two Asian countries. This has since increased to 21 nations, with six Asian countries, effectively leading to a reduction in returns to the organiser and the country,” he said.

The prime minister said, by no longer organising the event, the government can increase funding for motorsports in terms of talent development, infrastructure, as well as trasfer of technology and knowledge.

“The government will also use existing allocations for the use of other racing events such as MotoGP and Go-kart, building a special racing circuit in Sungai Petani, upgrading SIC facilities on top of helping our professional racing drivers become F1 drivers.”

Najib said the Sepang circuit will continue to play a key role in Malaysia’s effort to promote the nation on the international stage. It will continue to host major motorsports events such as the MotoGP amd other races which will continue to draw visitors to Malaysia.

He noted that Petronas will continue its sponsorship of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team as part of the company’s branding strategy.

“Malaysia, he said, acknowledged the support rendered by Formula One Management (FOM) throughout the period of the race organisation for the last 19 years.

“I also wish to convey my deepest appreciation over FOM’s understanding and agreement that the 2017 F1 race in Sepang will be the final one at the circuit.”