Poor returns may spell demise of Malaysia GP

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

Malaysia is considering scrapping its Grand Prix after 2018 due to falling ticket sales and increasing costs, sports officials said today in Kuala Lumpur.

The Malaysia Grand Prix, which takes place at Sepang International Circuit, has been a non-stop fixture on the calendar since 1999, but it's eroding finances have now called into question its future beyond its current contract with FOM expiring at the end of 2018.

"The locals are not buying the tickets to watch F1," explained Sepang CEO Razlan Razali to the  AFP.

"If there is no economic value, why should we continue? We better take a temporary break."

Attendance figures for last month's race topped out at 45,000, while Sepang can accomodate 120,000 fans, and TV ratings also proved disappointing.

Malaysia's Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also pointed to competition from other Asian venues as a reason for the country's dwindling Grand Prix numbers.

"When we first hosted F1 it was a big deal," said the Minister.

"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 because they can choose Singapore, China, Middle East. Returns are not as big.

"I think we should stop hosting the F1. At least for a while. Costs are too high, and returns are limited."

Should Malaysia disappear from the F1 calendar, it is unclear f this would affect the presence in Formula 1 of Mercedes sponsor Petronas, the State-owned Malaysian oil company, which has also been badly hit by the dramatic price slump in oil.

Razlan insisted however that Malaysia would remain committed to MotoGP, whose ticket sales and popularity remain quite strong as this year's sold-out event indicated.

DRIVER RATINGS: United States Grand Prix

2017 driver line-ups so far

Silbermann says ... Taylor should take over F1

Romain Grosjean column: 100 races, now for the wins

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter