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Sepang boss hints at possible return to calendar

NEWS STORY
20/09/2022

Sepang, which last hosted F1 in 2017, could return to the schedule, but circuit boss warns the event would need to prove itself worthwhile.

Since first joining the schedule in 1999 - when it was the scene of Michael Schumacher's return to action following his Silverstone crash - the Sepang International Circuit proved itself popular with drivers and fans alike.

While the track's layout lent itself to numerous overtaking opportunities, the propensity for rainstorms added another dynamic to races.

Abandoning a planned switch to a night race format, the 2009 event was held at sunset, however heavy rain saw the race abandoned after just 33 laps, and drivers awarded half points.

Though it had a contract through to 2018, in 2017 organizers pulled the plug, citing falling attendance and increasing hosting fees, though MotoGP continued and returns next month after missing two years due to the pandemic.

Speaking to AFP, Azhan Shafriman Hanif, CEO of the circuit, has hinted at a possible return to the schedule, but admitted that the event would need to be worthwhile, and not just in a financial sense.

Asked if F1 might return in the near future, he replied: "At this juncture, the answer is no, not for the time being. Perhaps in another two to three years when the economy has stabilised.

"We need to know what is the return in terms of the spill-over effect," he added.

Looking further ahead, Sepang having been mooted as a possible replacement for the cancelled Russian Grand Prix, he said: "We need to look at the rebranding, how do we monetise the platform. We need to talk about technology transfer, talent development and environmental sustainability.

"If Formula 1 were to come back to Malaysia, it has to be hinged on something else, not only on the race. There must be another purpose why we are doing F1."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by MossMan, 21/09/2022 14:34

"@F1nerd - my regular experience of Malaysia is that there is no such thing as "rainstorms not so likely". There's only "large chance of heavy downpour" or "large chance of ocean falling out of the sky"."

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2. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 19/09/2022 20:27

"One of the best races as a spectator on TV. Spread the Singapore and Sepang apart as others mentioned. I miss this race. The toll on the drivers really makes the winning Sepang special."

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3. Posted by didaho, 19/09/2022 9:40

"Sepang's an awesome race to attend. Can't get around having two monsoons to work around and an absolute requirement to not be calendar adjacent to Singapore or give up anything like full attendance."

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4. Posted by F1nerd, 18/09/2022 9:08

"Maybe at a different time of the year when the rainstorms are not so likely would make it a better weekend."

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