Malaysia to deep-six its F1 race (2nd Update)

Start of Malaysian GP
Start of Malaysian GP

UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Malaysia Tourism & Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz said that the country will not host a Formula 1 Grand Prix after the current agreement expires in '18, according to Joseph Sipalan of REUTERS.

When asked about reports that the country was considering halting the annual race, Aziz said, "After 2018 no longer. (From the) longer term perspective, it's probably the correct decision because it's more expensive and no longer that attractive."

Malaysia had been considering canceling the race "due to declining ticket sales and TV viewing figures." Earlier in the day, Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "cast doubt over the future of the sport in Southeast Asia." Reuters

10/25/16 (GMM) Sepang, the host of the Malaysian grand prix, has warned there will be no quick decision over the future of the race near Kuala Lumpur.

Sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin caused a stir when he Tweeted that the Malaysian government should scrap the Malaysian grand prix because "Cost too high, returns limited".

Sepang's current contract with F1 runs until 2018.

"When we first hosted F1 it was a big deal," Jamaluddin added. "First in Asia outside Japan. Now so many venues. Not a novelty."

But he said Sepang should keep two-wheeled grand prix racing, MotoGP, because the category "is still popular".

"F1 ticket sales declining, TV viewership down," he continued.

Initial reports said a decision about Malaysia's place on the 21-race calendar could be made as soon as this week, following a scheduled meeting.

But a circuit spokesperson told the local Bernama news agency that there will in fact not be a quick decision.

"Any misunderstanding is regretted," the spokesperson said.

Track boss Razlan Razali, however, joined minister Jamaluddin in sounding downbeat about Sepang's F1 future, saying "a break" might be a good solution.

"Currently, some say the product is no longer exciting as it is being dominated by one team," he said at a media briefing.

Malaysian GP Podium
Malaysian GP Podium

10/24/16

Malaysia's Sepang Int'l Circuit CEO Datuk Ahmad Razlan Ahmad Razali said that the "fate of Formula One in the country will be decided by Thursday," according to the NEW STRAITS TIMES. Razlan said that although SIC had a "watertight agreement" with the license holders until '18, a special meeting would be held with SIC’s major stakeholder, the ministry of finance, "with regards to the future of the sporting event in Malaysia."

F1 ticket sales "have been on the decline" since '14. Razlan said that each year, "sales had consistently gone down" by 10%. Razlan added that initial reports for the last F1 race showed that TV viewership in Malaysia was the "lowest in history." NST

REUTERS' Rozanna Latiff reported in a series of posts on his official Twitter account, Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that the "costs of holding the race were too high, while the returns were limited." He said, "When we first hosted the F1 it was a big deal. First in Asia outside Japan. Now so many venues. No first mover advantage. Not a novelty. F1 ticket sales declining, TV viewership down. Foreign visitors down b/c (because) can choose Singapore, China, Middle East. Returns are not as big." State oil and gas firm Petronas is the title sponsor for the F1 race in Kuala Lumpur. The company "has been hit hard in recent times by the tumble in oil prices." Reuters

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