Malaysia will discontinue its Formula One Grand Prix race after 2018 due to falling revenues, a government minister said on Monday (Nov 21, 2016), waving the checkered flag on one of Asia's longest-running F1 races.
The economic problems besetting the sport are taking too much of a toll and Malaysia will not renew after its current contract expires in two years, Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz told local media.
The race’s future had been up in the air after officials said last month they were reassessing their commitment to the event amid ebbing television viewership and anaemic ticket sales.
“We spend 300 million ringgit ($67 million) per year but are not getting 300 million back,” Nazri told state-run Bernama news agency.
“There are no returns on the F1 Grand Prix.”
He noted that attendance had declined despite the high cost of staging the race, which has been held at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur since 1999.
“I think the people have lost interest,” he said.
The race has faced intensifying competition, particularly from the glittering night grand prix in neighbouring Singapore, just as energy-exporting Malaysia has seen its government revenues sapped by weak world oil prices and slowing economic growth.
Formula One races are often run at a loss but they are attractive to many cities because of their prestige and exposure to global audiences.
Malaysian officials have said Sepang, which can accommodate 120,000 fans, drew just 45,000 to last month’s grand prix, and added that race-day TV ratings were also poor.