Malaysia to ‘take a break’ from F1, indicating poor returns
Malaysia may discard the Formula One Grand Prix race after its contract expires in 2018 given the event’s failure to spur economic gains for the country, sports officials announced on Tuesday.
The “temporary break” from Formula One is because of mounting losses, officials declared, in grim hints for one of Asia’s longest-running Grands Prix.
Officials are scheduled to assemble this week to consider the future of the Malaysian Grand Prix after its current agreement expires in 2018.
“The locals are not purchasing the tickets to attend F1,” Razlan Razali, chief executive of the Sepang International Circuit (SIC), told AFP. “If there is no economic advantage, why should we remain? We better take a temporary break.”
Slumping ticket sales and dwindling TV viewership have sapped enthusiasm for the race, which has been held at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur since 1999. It has become dimmed by the glittering night Grand Prix in neighboring Singapore, while Malaysia is also in the grip of political and economic difficulties.
Formula One races are usually operated at a loss, but they are attractive to many cities because of their prestige and exposure to global viewers.
Razlan said Sepang, which can host 120,000 fans, attracted just 45,000 to last month’s Grand Prix and added that race-day TV ratings were also inadequate.
He noted that hosting F1 is “very expensive.”
Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said competition from other events outside of Malaysia was also taking its toll. He added “We should stop hosting’.
When we first hosted the F1, it was a big deal. First in Asia outside Japan. Now so many venues. No first mover advantage. Not a novelty.”
Official numbers reveal Formula One has dropped 200 million TV viewers globally since 2008, with frequent grievances including the predictability of races.