Formula One is facing a tumultuous season, with the schedule of the original 2020 calendar pretty much out the window. Presently, the French Grand Prix is set to be the first race of the season, but that could well be postponed given that the Covid-19 outbreak isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
That maelstrom hasn’t stopped talk of F1 and Malaysia from surfacing yet again though, although that is all conjecture. Whatever the case, Sepang International Circuit (SIC) CEO Azhan Shafriman Hanif says that the SIC isn’t ruling out the possibility of hosting a F1 race again in the future.
He was asked about this possibility by Bernama, and replied that many factors must be considered including the cost SIC would have to shoulder, as hosting F1 does not come cheap. “It (hosting the F1 again) is not on my top priority at the moment, but if the opportunity comes by and the offer is good, I’m very supportive of this idea because this event (F1) brings the branding part of Malaysia,” he said.
“Let’s say if we agree to host the F1 race for a longer period, we will hold a discussion with the government since the hosting fee is not cheap and also the money that we spend must be worthy to the government and also the fans,” he told the national news agency.
Azhan Shafriman, who was recently appointed to the role, said he will continue to strengthen various motorsports development programmes initiated by his predecessor, Datuk Razlan Razali, who has been given the full-time task as Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team principal.
The idea of F1 making a return to Sepang was first brought up in February last year by ex-prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who expressed his desire to bring the race back to Malaysia. The SIC had then responded to that thought by saying that there were many factors to consider before a return to hosting the GP was possible, and that any proposal would have to be studied thoroughly.
The SIC played host to Formula 1 for 19 straight years, from 1999 to 2017. Declining interest in the race and the high costs incurred were reasons cited for not continuing with it from 2018. The track however continues to host the popular MotoGP, which has been drawing record-breaking crowds in recent years.