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KUALA LUMPUR, 7 April 2017:
Malaysia will stage its final Formula One Grand Prix in October after the government and the sport’s commercial rights holders announced today their hosting agreement would end a year early.
Malaysia has hosted a round of the world championships at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) since 1999 but the government said last November that the deal would not be renewed when it ran out at the end of 2018.
However, both parties announced today the Oct 1 race this year would be the last.
“It’s always sad to say goodbye to a member of the Formula 1 family,” Sean Bratches, F1 commercial operations managing director, said in a statement.
“Over nearly two decades, the Malaysian Formula 1 fans have proven themselves to be some of the sport’s most passionate supporters.”
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today declining ticket sales, viewership and tourism were behind the decision to pull out of hosting the race.
“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,” he said in a statement.
State oil and gas firm Petronas is the title sponsor of the F1 race. The company has been hit hard in recent times by tumbling oil prices.
Petronas, however, will continue to sponsor the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team as part of its marketing strategy, Najib said.
Government funds allocated for the race will be redirected towards other types of motor racing, upgrading the circuit, and training future Malaysian Formula One drivers, the prime minister added.
The Sepang circuit will continue to host a round of the motorcycling world championships until 2021 under the terms of a deal signed with MotoGP rights holders Dorna Sports last year.
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