Update, 4th April 2016:
Prime Miniter, Najib Razak, has confirmed that the Cabinet has agreed to terminate Malaysia’s contract for hosting Formula One races, citing high costs and lower returns. In a statement on the Formula One website, it was announced that the 2017 Malaysia Grand Prix will be the countries last after almost two decades of hosting the major motorsport event.
On a positive note, however, two new locations have been added to the 2018 Formula One calendar, France and Germany.
Last month, just after the Formula 1 Malaysia Grand Prix, Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted that he thought it would be best for Malaysia to stop hosting F1 races, citing the high cost and limited returns.
He explained that declining interest in the sports has caused ticket sales and TV viewership rates to drop, and the fact that Malaysia now has to compete with Singapore, China, and the Middle East for ticket sales to foreign visitors.
It seems that Malaysia’s Tourism and Culture Minister, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, agrees with Khairy, as he just announced that the country will not be renewing its Formula 1 contract once it expires in 2018. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Nazri explained that Malaysia spends about RM300 million per year on hosting the race but the returns do not cover the cost.
He also stated that the cost of hosting has increased steadily since the first race in 1999 and that plus the declining interest has made F1 too expensive to host. However, Nazri did say that Malaysia will continue hosting the Motorcycle Grand Prix which has seen an increase in fans, and is contributing to the tourism industry.
What do you think?
Malaysia still has two races to host before ending the contract, so anything can happen in that time. If the ringgit rises, the economy shows promising growth, and interest in Formula 1 is reignited for whatever reason, maybe the government will consider renewing the contract.