F1's return to Sepang possible with corporate sponsors - Mokhzani
KUALA LUMPUR - While local and international motorsports fans would love to see the prestigious Formula One (F1) cars racing on the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) again the high cost of hosting the race remains a big hindrance.
With costs estimated to be over RM200 million annually, Motorsports Association of Malaysia (MAM) president Tan Sri Mokhzani Mahathir said the possibility of bringing back F1 remains to be seen, what more while the ringgit’s instability against the US dollar.
He did add that F1 could make a comeback to SIC in the next three to five years if corporate entities were willing to sponsor the cost.
"In terms of being the host, it’s not a problem. It is a question of who is going to pay and whether we can afford it or not. I have no idea what is it (the cost) right now, but definitely it is higher than when we stopped in 2017.
"F1 is more popular than it used to be, it has a new audience after the ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’ Netflix series while a lot of countries are bidding for the race as a statement for their country,” he told reporters during the MAM Aidilfitri Open House here today, which was also attended by the Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh.
Malaysia first began hosting F1 races in 1999 and the government decided to bring it to an end in 2017 due to a significant decline in returns.
Mokhzani said despite not hosting the race for six years now, the popularity of SIC remains among the F1 enthusiasts and drivers.
"We get comments from drivers themselves that Sepang is one of the challenging tracks that they want to see back in the calendar. We always have a good relationship with the organisers, we know them since 1996 when we start the discussion to host the race, so it is matter of time,” he added.
Meanwhile, he said MAM’s priority for now is to focus on grassroots talent development and to ensure all motorsports events in the country are organised in a safe manner to ensure the safety of both racers and spectators.
Yeoh, who lauded the effort, said more discussions were needed with the stakeholders, industry players, and enforcement agencies to impose stricter measures on race organisers.
"I have visited several stakeholders for motorsports, I believe this industry still has more potential to be developed. But we have to ensure safety is the main aspect,” she told reporters. - BERNAMA