Najib: F1 unprofitable due to rising costs

By P PREM KUMAR & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Malaysia has stopped hosting the Formula One (F1) race as the cost has increased 10 times compared to the maiden race in 1999.

“Furthermore, the depreciation of the ringgit has also left an impact on the increase in costs that the government has to bear,” Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak said in a written parliamentary reply yesterday.

He was responding to a query from Pagoh MP Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who asked the government to state factors behind the suspension of the F1 race in Malaysia.

Najib also said Malaysia is no longer the only two countries, apart from Japan, to be organising the F1 race in the Asian region, hence resulting in the loss of spectators and ticket sales.

“Apart from Malaysia, there were five other F1 races being organised in the Asian continent — Japan, China, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Singapore.

“The multiple locations have led to a decline in the number of local and international spectators witnessing the race in Sepang,” he said.

According to Najib, a study undertaken by the government also found that there was a decline in the percentage of global viewership for the F1 races held in Malaysia via electronic media.

“This indirectly shows that the sport is no longer relevant to be organised in Malaysia,” he said.

In April 2009, the Sepang International Circuit Sdn Bhd, was taken over from Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd through a share sale agreement.

Sepang International Circuit then became a wholly owned company of the Minister of Finance Inc.

The aim of establishing Sepang International Circuit was to bolster the motor sports industry in Malaysia by organising the F1 Championship and MotoGP competition which first started in 1999.

The Finance Ministry on Dec 15, 2014, agreed to extend F1’s contract to Sepang International Circuit for a three-year period from 2016 to 2018.

On April this year, the government announced that it will end its contract to host the F1 Grand Prix race from 2018.