Hamilton laments loss of Malaysia from F1 calendar

Grandstand view of Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia, Malaysian Grand Prix
© WRI2

Lewis Hamilton says that it would a great shame if this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix does indeed prove to be the last time Formula 1 visits the country.

Declining ticket sales and viewing figures have been blamed for the Malaysian government's decision not to renew the contract to stage F1 events at Sepang International Circuit.

The first race held at the venue was in 1999. This weekend's race will be the nineteenth Grand Prix in the country.

“It is definitely sad to think this is the last race,” Hamilton told a news conference organised by Petronas. The oil company is a major sponsor of Hamilton's Mercedes F1 team.

“It’s the most challenging for the car and the team," he pointed out. "They are taking away one of the toughest, if not the toughest, Grand Prix of the season.

"[It] will be hard to replace," he added.

Temperatures for the drivers in the cockpit can exceed 50C. Humidity levels of 70 per cent mean that drivers can lose three litres of body fluid in sweat during a race.

Long straights and high loads in the corners also make the race one of the most gruelling on the F1 itinerary. The race takes a major toll on both men and machines.

Last year, Hamilton suffered a mortal blow to his championship prospects in Malaysia. His engine blew up on lap 40 while he was in a commanding lead of the race. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo went on to inherit the victory.

Hamilton did win here in 2014. However, his main title rival Sebastian Vettel is the most successful driver in the history of the event, clinching wins in 2010, 2011 and 2013 (with Red Bull) and 2015 (with Ferrari.)

Ferrari is the most successful team at Sepang, with seven victories in 19 outings. The Scuderia won the first three Malaysian races in a row in 1999 to 2001.

Mercedes have just Hamilton's victory on their side of the balance sheet. That suggests they could find it hard at Malaysia to maintain their advantage over Ferrari in this year's championship battle.

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