Sepang pondering contract extension
The Sepang International Circuit is pondering whether or not to extend it’s contract to continue hosting the Malaysian Grand Prix, with next season’s race set to be the last under the current contract. With value for money a big talking point between the chiefs of the iconic Malaysian circuit, a major meeting has been scheduled at Barcelona during the forthcoming Spanish Grand Prix.
Since 1999 the Malaysian Grand Prix has become a renowned venue on the Formula 1 calendar, with it’s iconic grandstands, wide track and unpredictable weather making each race a memorable occasion with the paddock and fans alike. However, with the F1 calendar continuing to expand at a phenomenal rate, the continuation of the Malaysian Grand Prix could come under serious question in the weeks to come as the Sepang International Circuit begins to negotiate a new deal to host the event after receiving the green light from their government.
With the new engine regulations causing a storm within the paddock after the first four races of the 2014 season, Chief Executive Officer of the Sepang International Circuit, Dato’ Razlan Razali, has confirmed that the sound of the new engines is one of the major factors in the negotiation process along with value for money. Since the introduction of the new turbo-charged V6 engines for the new season, the iconic roar which many fans adored has since been lost. However, there can be no denying that the new technical regulations have sparked a renewed competitiveness within the field, with the Bahrain Grand Prix clearly an example of what the new formula can produce.
“We have been given the green light from the government to begin negotiation with F1 management, so we are doing that right now,” explained Dato’ Razlan Razali in an exclusive interview with crash.net. “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.”
“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.”
With new nations such as Azerbaijan and Thailand continuing to pursue races of their own, along with returning nations such as Argentina and Mexico, the loss of the Malaysian Grand Prix could fit in perfectly in allowing the Formula 1 calendar to remain at roughly 19 to 21 races along with new additions. However, the Malaysian Grand Prix has produced some enthralling racing in its still relatively short time on the F1 calendar, and it’s continuation in the sport would undoubtedly be favoured over new endeavours elsewhere.
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