Sepang is considering whether it gets value for money as the host of the Malaysian Grand Prix after getting approval to negotiate a new contract for the race.
Next year's grand prix will be the last at Sepang on its current contract, with negotiations taking place over a potential extension. However, speaking exclusively to Crash.net
, Dato' Razlan Razali – chief executive officer of the Sepang International Circuit – said there were a number of considerations that need to be weighed up before the track decides whether it wants to sign a new contract or not.
“We have been given the green light from the government to begin negotiation with F1 management, so we are doing that right now,” Razali said. “We have a big meeting coming up in Barcelona to discuss this.
“Of course there are a lot of factors involved: Price is one, other ongoing issues are important for us, such as where F1 is heading in the next five years. Then we have the impending issues on the sound, the technicalities, because there are lot of calls for F1 to be a spectacle and to bring back the noise. So we have all these factors to consider if we want to extend beyond 2015.”
While Razali admits there are concerns over the sound of the 2014 engines, he says the loss of the V8s will be tempered by good racing in some locations, but warned of the reaction in Europe.
“People can relate to F1 purely because of the noise. I am not sure too much about the technical side of things – if you go to a fan and say this is a hybrid F1 car, does that interest them? I am not so sure. They are there purely for the sound and the spectacle. As long as there is good racing, and we have seen some good racing this year, then that helps counter the noise side of things.
“Then again, I believe the European fans are a lot more fanatic and a lot more brutal, so the big test will be in Barcelona and then you will see the fans' reaction for the whole thing.”
By Chris Medland and Ollie Barstow