Malaysia and Singapore Formula One races under threat

Commercial pressures mean that the races in Sepang and around Marina Bay could both disappear after 2018

Malaysia and Singapore Formula One races under threat
Due to the excessive fees Bernie Ecclestone demands, many favoured circuits can't afford to host a Grand Prix. (Image Credit: ThisIsF1.com)

As Liberty Media continue to take stock of their latest purchase, Formula One for $8 billion, the Malaysian government have announced that after the current contract they have expires in 2018, F1 will not race there anymore, owing to the fact that "the cost of hosting F1 has increased 10-fold compared to the first time it was held (1999)" according to Minister of Tourism and Culture, Nazri Abdul Aziz.

Dwindling viewing figures and falling attendances mean that the country simply can't afford the fees demanded by Bernie Ecclestone to have the honour of hosting a round of the World Championship.

Aziz, speaking to local media explained that: "the current agreement is from 2016 to 2018. So once that ends, there will be no more F1.

"We are spending 300 million RM a year on the race." That works out at just under $100 million.

The fact that MotoGP is more popular than F1 at Sepang means the plug could be pulled on the four-wheels. (Image Credit: F1 Fanatic/XPB Images)
The fact that MotoGP is more popular than F1 at Sepang means the plug could be pulled on the four-wheels. (Image Credit: F1 Fanatic/XPB Images)

Instead of loving four wheels, the crowds are flocking to Sepang to see their two-wheeled colleagues, with MotoGP extremely popular in Malaysia. Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of State for Youth and Sports wants the country to embrace riders such as Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi, with races on two-wheels significantly more dramatic and contentious than the recent four-wheeled equviliants.

The end for Singapore?

Ecclestone has also revealed that he believes the organisers in Singapore wish to end their hosting of a Grand Prix, after their contract expires after the 2017 race.

Speaking to ​Auto Motor und Sport​, the F1 supremo gave an answer to increased speculation that the 10th race around Marina Bay would be the last.

The 2017 running of the SIngapore GP, could be the last around the popular Marina Bay circuit. (Formula One)
The 2017 running of the SIngapore GP, could be the last around the popular Marina Bay circuit. (Formula One)

"Singapore was suddenly more than just an airport to fly to or from somewhere. Now they believe they have reached their goal and they do not want a grand prix anymore" commented Ecclestone.

Never one to forget a deal, or agreement, or the terms of one, the 85-year-old added "Yes, the grand prix has cost Singapore a lot of money, but we've also given them a lot of money."

The race, on the calendar since  2008 has grown into one of the most popular of the season, for Teams, Drivers, Media and fans alike, with the layout challenging and before Nico Rosberg's win in September, being only conquered by World Champions.

Another of Bernie's bright ideas

In the past, when F1's very own marmite muted the idea of a sprinker system, he was lambasted from all corners. However, whenever it rains, and the form-book thrown off of the pit-wall, people say how stupid an idea it wasn't.

This time, in a bid to help F1 crack the elusive American market, Bernie has suggested that races could be double-headers in the future - in a bid to help capture the attention of fans.

Speaking to ​The Sunday Times​, he said: "We need to look at the traditional concept of one long race. Two 40-minute races with a 40-minute break in the middle when drivers could be interviewed, cars worked on". He also added his belief that the sponsors would love such a move.

His reasoning behind the idea is that, "​All American sports have time-outs built in, mainly because American audiences can't concentrate." Bringing the familiar segments to live sporting events that the US market is accustomed to would help the sport crack what is arguably its longest standing problem.

Ecclestone also stated his desire to reduce the size of the rule-book and allow "the proper drivers who are fustrated" the ability to race. That is an idea that no-one will lambast the Circus Master for throwing up.