Time is up for Malaysia on Grand Prix calender

Sepang International Circuit, Sepang, Malaysia. Friday 30 September 2016. World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic ref: Digital Image _31I8323

It has been announced that this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix is to be the country’s 19 the and last, a decision taken jointly by Formula 1 and Sepang International Circuit (SIC).

Malaysia joined the Formula 1 calendar in 1999

Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations, Formula 1 commented, “It’s always sad to say goodbye to a member of the Formula 1 family. Over nearly two decades, the Malaysian Formula 1 fans have proven themselves to be some of the sport’s most passionate supporters.

“As we said in Melbourne, we have big plans for bringing our global fan base closer to the sport than ever before, providing an enhanced digital experience and creating new events. We’re looking forward to talking more about these plans as the season progresses.

“We will have 21 exciting events to look forward to in the 2018 calendar, with the additions of the French and German races. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Sepang International Circuit for their hospitality and professionalism over the years, and their ongoing commitment to motorsport.”

Malaysia’s tourism minister had said in November that the country will stop hosting the racing championships after the current agreement expires in 2018.

“The Cabinet has agreed to end the contract for hosting the Formula One race starting 2018 after considering lowering returns to the country compared to the cost of hosting the championships,” Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement.

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 tumbling oil prices.

Petronas, however, will continue to sponsor the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team as part of its marketing strategy, Najib said.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said, “It is a bit of a blow. It was one of the great circuits. For us emotionally it is a bit tough to overcome because it is a home grand prix.”

Both Formula 1 and SIC say they are committed to make this year’s event in October a fitting finale for the ground-breaking circuit.