The Malaysian Grand Prix could be dropped from the Formula 1 World Championship schedule over dwindling ticket sales and TV audience figures.
The first F1 race to be held in Asia outside Japan, the Sepang International Circuit has become a mainstay of the calendar since the inaugural Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999 but has struggled to attract impressive spectator figures.
According to the Bernama
news agency, it is understood organisers and the Malaysian government will meet this week to discuss the future of the race, which has a contract in place until 2018.
"When we first hosted the F1 it was a big deal. First in Asia outside Japan. Now so many venues. No first mover advantage. Not a novelty,” wrote Khairy Jamaluddin in a series of Twitter posts.
"F1 ticket sales declining, TV viewership down. Foreign visitors down b/c (because) can choose Singapore, China, Middle East. Returns are not as big," he said.
With this year's race shifted from a March/April date slot to September/October following a resurface over the winter, Malaysia went into direct competition with nearby Singapore. However, this year would see another dip in spectator figures to approximately 45,000 and its lowest race-day TV figures too.
Malaysia's exit could have further reaching consequences as it is title sponsored by Malaysian petroleum giant Petronas, which in turn backs the championship leading Mercedes team. However, it is known the state-backed firm has been hit hard by the drop in wholesale gas and oil prices.
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