Malaysia deserts the sinking ship?

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The Malaysia sports minister admits their F1 race could be dropped as hosting fees rise and interest diminishes.

Max Verstappen.
Max Verstappen.

According to the New Strait Times, a special meeting is to be held with the major stakeholder in the Sepang International Circuit which first hosted a round of the world championship in 1999.

It is claimed that as hosting fees continue to rise 10% year on year, ticket sales have declined since 2014, sales consistently falling by 10%. By contrast, Moto GP consistently sells out, with last month’s event attracting 90,000 spectators.

“When we first hosted the F1 it was a big deal,” said sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin. “First in Asia outside Japan. Now so many venues. No first mover advantage. Not a novelty.”

“F1 ticket sales declining, TV viewership down,” he continued. Foreign visitors down because can choose Singapore, China, Middle East. Returns are not as big.”

“For the record I still think we should host Moto GP…1) Cheaper fee and cost, 2) Sellout crowd, 3) We have riders in Moto 2 and 3.”

Meanwhile, Razlan Razali, chief executive at the Sepang International Circuit, claims this year’s TV viewing figures of the race were the “worst in its history”.

“Maybe it will do Malaysia good to take a break,” he said. “I think the product is no longer exciting, it’s being dominated by one team.”

While admitting that there is a “watertight” contract to hold the race until 2018, Razlan insisted that a meeting has been convened to decide its future.

Further to Razali’s outburst, none of his statements are a surprise, as the spectators have been saying all that for some years, and the FIA’s ideas to ‘artificially’ spice up the racing does nothing other than devalue F1. Such concepts as 40 grid place penalties in a 22 car field is just ludicrous. And for that matter, introducing hybrid technology has not been a success. It has been an expensive failure. Spectators do not care what engine a car has got – spectators want to see drivers competing against each other, which is why Verstappen has become so popular. He at least has a go!