KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz today said Malaysia will no longer host the Formula One Grand Prix race in Sepang once the current agreement expires in 2018.
In confirming this, he said the hosting of the race had proven to be costly and has not brought necessary returns to the country.
Nazri said he agreed with Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who had expressed his support last month for a temporary halt to Malaysia hosting the motorsport event.
"The current agreement is from 2016 to 2018. So once that ends, there will be no more (F1 in Malaysia).
"F1 attendance is dropping and there is less attraction now. We are spending RM300 million a year (for the race),” Nazri told reporters at Parliament lobby today.
His remark came after a report that Singapore too is mulling exit from the event. Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, in an interview with German motorsports magazine Auto Motor Und Sport, said he believed Singapore would not be extending its F1 contract after 2017.
Although he agreed that the Grand Prix has cost Singapore "a lot of money", he said F1 too has also given the country "a lot of money" in return.
“Singapore was suddenly more than just an airport to fly to or from somewhere. “Now they believe they have reached their goal and do not want a grand prix anymore,” Ecclestone was quoted as saying.
It was reported that Singapore suffered a 15 per cent decrease in ticket sales for the 2016 Singapore GP.
In October, the New Straits Times reported that Malaysia was considering taking a temporary break from the sport following a drop in ticket sales at the Sepang racing circuit.
Sepang International Circuit (SIC) chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Razlan Ahmad Razali reportedly said that SIC was mulling the future of the race in Malaysia.
Khairy via his Twitter handle @Khairykj, in response said there were many compelling factors to support the idea, including high costs and limited returns.
He reportedly said that when Malaysia first began hosting the F1 races in 1999, it was the first Asian country outside of Japan to do so.
“Now, there are so many venues. There is no first-mover advantage; it’s no longer a novelty,” he tweeted.