Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says that he is hopeful that Formula 1 can make a return to Malaysia in the future after last staging a Grand Prix in 2017.
The Sepang International Circuit was the sole venue of the Malaysian Grand Prix between 1999 to its last race in 2017, when the country stopped hosting a race due to rising costs and limited returns. Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen was the last winner of the prestigious Grand Prix.
The race promoters of the Grand Prix cancelled its contract in 2016 after mutually agreeing with the sport to end terms a year before their contract expired. The lack of attendance was one of the reasons why the promoters cancelled the Grand Prix.
Since then, the sport has new owners in Liberty Media and plans to introduce new races into various regions of the world, including another race within the South East Asia of Vietnam.
Despite of cancelling their contract and ending their hosting of a Formula 1 race, Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told at the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting that the interest of an F1 race in the country still remain.
“We believe that the interest in the grand prix is still very big, and we want to bring the race back here,” said Mohamad.
“Lots of people [go] there, [they] have motorcycle races there.”
“And a lot of people buy expensive cars, especially in Singapore. In Singapore they don’t have to drive. When they come to Malaysia they find that breaking the speed limit here is okay.”
Mohamad was one of the key figures into bringing a Formula 1 race into the country back in 1999 when he was serving as the country’s prime minister. The 92 year old made a return to office back in 2018.
The Prime Minister is hopeful that if a return to F1 comes, they’ll be able to bring in 100,000 spectators in over the race weekend. It is unclear yet if Malaysia does want to return to F1, when they’ll plan to return with speculation surrounding a return either next year or 2021.
“So, we think that by having the grand prix [again], we will be able to get more than 100,000 spectators and that will be worthwhile for us.”
“Besides that, when we have the grand prix, the television stations broadcast this all over the world, bringing about 200 million viewers.”
Whilst the Prime Minister of Malaysia is in favour of bringing the sport back into the country, Sepang International Circuit CEO Razlan Razali told Fox Sports AU that the circuit would like to see how the circuit does without F1 for at least five years before thinking about a return.
“Our new Prime Minister Dr Mahathir, who founded the Sepang circuit and initially brought Formula One, is back in the government,” commented Razali.
“He did express his desire that one day F1 will return but we maintain that we would like to live life without Formula One for at least five years from our last race in 2017. We shall wait and evaluate the situation.”