Malaysia seeks return of F1

22/04/2019
NEWS STORY

A part of the F1 calendar since 1999, in early 2017, weeks after Liberty Media's purchase of the sport, commercial boss Sean Bratches revealed that Malaysia would drop from the schedule at the end of the year.

There had been doubts over the event's future for some time after the Malaysian government announced that due to escalating costs and falling ticket demand, it would not fund an extension to its contract, while Sepang circuit boss Razlan Razali, didn't mince his words when he hit out at the sport and its new owners.

"I always feel for a new company to take over a championship like Formula One," he told AFP, "they need to move faster than the Formula One cars themselves.

"But they are too slow to react," he continued. "For circuit owners who pay them a lot of money every year, the least they could do is introduce themselves, rather than us going to them and saying 'Are you Chase? are you Sean?'

"They are trying their hardest to make it work, but they are too focused on the Paddock Club, which, let's face it, is less than a thousand people, rather than the masses.

"What triggers the masses is to buy tickets to watch Formula One," he insisted, "what they experience at the Formula One is secondary. They want to buy tickets because Formula One is damn interesting or because they are supporting a particular driver or a team.

"In Moto GP they have everything," he said, "they have great support races with Moto Three and Moto Two. There are three world championship races and they create fans from the beginning.

"When a new rider comes into Moto Three, younger fans follow this particular rider. Maverick Vinales, for example, he started in Moto Three, he moved all the way up to Moto GP and the fans did the same. But you look at Formula One, who's Lance Stroll," he argued, "you tell me?"

However, Speaking at the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce recently, prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said he would like to see his country back on the schedule.

We believe that the interest in the Grand Prix is still very big, and we want to bring the race back here," he said. "We think that by having the Grand Prix, we will be able to get more than 100,000 spectators and that will be worthwhile for us.

"Besides that, when we have the Grand Prix, the television stations broadcast this all over the world, bringing about 200 million viewers."

While the government previously dropped its funding due to the excessive hosting fees, if talk of the amount Vietnam is paying is true, organisers in Malaysia might sense a decent deal being on the table sometime soon.

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Published: 22/04/2019
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