Malaysia is set to sign a three-year contract extension for its Formula One grand prix, a top official said on Saturday, in a welcome piece of positive news for the sport.
Sepang International Circuit chairman Mokhzani Tun Mahathir said he hoped to put pen to paper in the next couple of weeks, continuing a race which first ran in 1999.
This month, the German Grand Prix was removed from the 2015 calendar and the Korean and Indian races both disappeared last season.
“We have made an understanding to our stakeholders that we extend by three years and that doesn’t seem to be an issue,” Mokhzani said at the Sepang circuit.
“It’s just to make sure the legal language on those documents are correct — that’s where we’re at. Hopefully it will be resolved in the next couple of weeks.”
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone on Friday warned the Italian Grand Prix could also fall by the wayside and said there was no guarantee that Germany would return next year.
High costs and falling ticket sales have been blamed for the slump, and teams are also feeling the pinch with both Caterham and Marussia going bust last year.
In an indication of the problems, only 15 cars started this month’s Australian Grand Prix, the lowest number for a season-opener since 1963.
Attendances at Sepang have also been dropping but Mokhzani said the race helped raise Malaysia’s profile and lure foreign tourists.
“Malaysia, and some of the other newer F1 hosts, look at it from a lot more angles compared to where the traditional races had been,” he said.
“We have always looked at it as a platform to promote Malaysia, and attract foreign tourists into Malaysia.
“So there’s still a reason for the government to say yes to hosting Formula One, as long as all the prerequisites are there and the internal investment is still justifiable.” – Agence France-Presse