Malaysia to lose F1 Grand Prix
SHANGHAI, China (AP): The Malaysian Grand Prix will hold its final edition on October 1, bringing an end to one of the longest-running Formula One (F1) races in Asia after struggling in recent years to attract fans and local television viewers.
The announcement, which was made Friday by F1 officials at the Chinese Grand Prix and the Malaysian government, had been anticipated after the country's sports minister indicated late last year that the race's contract would not be renewed when it expires in 2018.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said yesterday that the government had decided to pull out of F1 because of the high cost of staging the event and declining ticket sales and tourism figures.
"Hosting the F1 has helped promote the country as a destination for international sports and tourism. However, it's time for the government to assess the F1 race due to the changes since we first hosted the race in 1999," Najib said.
Competition from other races in Asia has taken a toll on the Malaysian Grand Prix. In his statement, Najib noted that when the race was first held at Sepang International Circuit nearly two decades ago, there was only one other Asian country on the F1 calendar, Japan.
Now, six Asian countries host F1 races, including nearby Singapore, which has one of the most popular races, run at night through the city streets.
"It's always sad to say goodbye to a member of the Formula One family," Sean Bratches, F1 managing director for commercial operations, said in Shanghai. "Malaysian Formula One fans have proven themselves to be some of the most passionate supporters."