The future of the Malaysian Grand Prix has hit a setback, after the country’s Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz, advised on Monday that they would not be extending the contract after the current deal expires in 2018.
Ticket sales at the South East Asian event have been low since the venue began hosting the Malaysian Grand Prix back in 1999, and TV viewing figures have also been dropping year on year, making hosting the race no longer sustainable or financially viable for Malaysia and the Sepang International Circuit.
Despite having two more years left on their current deal, the minister confirmed to local media that the Malaysian Grand Prix would be no more once their contractual obligations end in 2018.
“The current agreement is from 2016 to 2018. So once that ends, there will be no more [F1].
“F1 attendance is dropping and there is less attraction now. We are spending RM 300 million a year [$97 million].
“The cost of hosting F1 has increased 10-fold compared to the first time it was held.”
Much more popular with the locals and fans is the MotoGP race, which saw 161, 553 spectators enjoy the grand prix in 2016 despite a rain soaked weekend, compared to a turn out of just 44, 611 for its F1 counterpart in 2015, with many blaming the high price of tickets for F1 as a big turn-off.
The Malaysian minister has stated that the Government will be focusing their attentions on supporting MotoGP going forward, as the attraction to the event is still very much apparent, whilst interest in F1 is beginning to fall by the wayside.
With other host venue’s, such as Singapore, also hinting at withdrawal from the calendar, maybe now is the time for F1 bosses to consider the decline in popularity of a once global favourite, before it is too late.