Malaysian Grand Prix to be scrapped after 2017 race due to poor ticket sales and rising costs

The Malaysian Prime Minister has confirmed that Sepang will no longer stage a race on the F1 calendar from 2018

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The Independent Online

This season’s Malaysian Grand Prix will be the last after organisers confirmed they will scrap the Formula One race due to dwindling ticket sales and a lack of interest compared to the cost of hosting the event.

Malaysia’s tourism minister hinted last November that they were looking to drop the grand prix once the current contract expires next year, with the Malaysian Prime Minstser, Najib Razak, confirmed that the race will no longer be staged at Sepang.

"The Cabinet has agreed to end the contract for hosting the Formula One race starting 2018 after considering lowering returns to the country compared to the cost of hosting the championships," Mr Razak said in a statement on Friday.

After making the announcement, Liberty Media - Fomrula One's new owners - confirmed that an agreement has been reached to scrap the race a year earlier than planned, meaning this season's Grand Prix will be the last. However, F1 commercial boss Sean Bratches, who announced the decision, also confirmed that the German Grand Prix will be back on the calendar next season, along with the returning French Grand Prix.

The loss of the Malaysian Grand Prix should not impact on interest in F1 from Asia, given there remains races in Japan, Singapore, Azerbaijan and this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. However, it will come as a blow to the quality of racing offered from Formula One given that grand prixs at Sepang have provide plenty of thrills and controversy, be it through the unpredictable weather, wide track that aids overtaking or the infamous “multi-21” clash between former Red Bull teammates Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.

Part of the reason behind scrapping the race is the impact on falling oil prices on state oil and gas firm, Petronas, the title sponsor of the Grand Prix. However, Petronas will continue their sponsorship of reigning Formula One world champions Mercedes as part of its marketing strategy beyond 2018.

This year’s Malaysian Grand Prix takes place on 17 September, little more than a month before the Malaysian MotoGP race that attracts far bigger crowds and a better return on ticket sales.

The Independent revealed this week that one of Bernie Ecclestone’s last stands as Formula One supremo was to put the brakes on a Vietnamese Grand Prix, due to his belief that there were already too many races in Asia at tracks that do not hold the same motorsport history as some of the older venues on the calendar.