|Country to focus on popular Motorcycle Grand Prix, extending contract through 2021
Malaysia will stop hosting Formula One Grand Prix races once its contract ends in 2018 and will give way to Motorcycle GrandPrix, tourism minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said Monday.
The International Automobile Federation, the governing body of motor sport, wasn’t immediately available for comment.
“I think the people have lost interest (on F1),” Mr. Nazri said after his session at the parliament in Malaysia’s capital. “However, if MotoGP is scrapped next year, it will affect our tourism badly.”
He said Malaysia has spent 300 million ringgit ($67.93 million) annually on hosting F1 but failed to get the same amount in return.
In October, Malaysia Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin expressed his support for a stop to the country’s hosting F1 races. On Twitter, he cited declining ticket sales and TV viewership figures as well as foreign visitors having the choices of attending races in China, the Middle East and Singapore.
Malaysia’s decision comes after F1 Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone’s interview Sunday with German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, in which he said Malaysia neighbor Singapore doesn’t want to host F1 Grand Prix any longer amid flagging interest.
Singapore Grand Prix couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
If Malaysia and Singapore stop hosting F1 events, Southeast Asia would be without any F1 races for the first time since 1998.
Malaysia recently announced an extension with MotoGP through 2021. Tickets were sold out for a three-day event last month in the country’s Sepang circuit.
The track for the circuit, which is famous for the clash between nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi and current world champion Marc Marquez, was resurfaced this year, with new paddock buildings constructed.