The organisers of the Malaysian Grand Prix are deciding if they will continue to host the race beyond 2018, with the suggestion that it has poor return on its investment.
As one of the first of the new wave of Asian races, Malaysia has hosted Formula One since 1999, and was one of the first circuits designed in the modern way by famed Formula One architect Hermann Tilke.
However, the increasing cost of hosting a Formula One race, dictated by the fees levied by sport and the increased level of competition had led the organisers to question if the event provides good value. Formula One now has races in Singapore and China which compete directly with Malaysia, along with the longstanding race in Japan, while other races in Korea and India have fallen off the radar already.
Sepang also hosts the MotoGP series, which the circuit has just undergone a transformation to make it ‘bike friendly’, the most dramatic change to make the final corner off camber which is attractive to the series. It doesn’t help, but the MotoGP series attracted 85,000 fans to the circuit, compared to just 45,000 to the F1 race which has some of the cheapest ticket prices on the calendar. Even the cheap prices are not enough of a draw for the locals, despite the teams and drivers liking the circuit, with good transport links into the city, as well as being located next to the international airport, KLIA.
The future of the race could also be linked to Petronas, the national Oil company which has badly hit by the fall in oil prices.