F1 Confirms Last Malaysian GP in October

Haas F1 Team driver Kevin Magnussen of Denmark steers his car during the first practice session for the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix on Friday at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China. Photo: Andy Wong / Associated Press

SHANGHAI — The last Malaysian Grand Prix will run on Oct. 1, bringing an end to a race that has been a fixture on the Formula One calendar for 19 years.

F1 officials at the Chinese GP and the Malaysian government made the announcement on Friday.

Despite a contract to host the event through 2018, the government decided this year’s race would be the last due to the high cost of staging the event and declining ticket sales and tourism figures.

“Hosting the F1 has helped promote the country as a destination for international sports and tourism. However, it’s time for the government to assess the F1 race due to the changes since we first hosted the race in 1999,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement.

Competition from other races in Asia has taken a toll on the Malaysian GP. In his statement, Najib noted that when the race was first held at Sepang International Circuit nearly two decades ago, there was only one other Asian country on the F1 calendar, Japan.

Now, six Asian countries host F1 races, including nearby Singapore, which has one of the most popular races, run at night through the city streets.

The end of the Malaysian GP was anticipated since late last year when Malaysia’s sports minister indicated the country might not renew its contract when it expired.

“It’s always sad to say goodbye to a member of the Formula One family,” Sean Bratches, F1 managing director for commercial operations, said on Friday in Shanghai. “Malaysian Formula One fans have proven themselves to be some of the most passionate supporters.”

State oil company Petronas will continue to sponsor the Mercedes team, the prime minister said in his statement.

Story: Justin Bergman