BIG BUSINESS: Race creates far-reaching effects and should continue beyond 2015
MALAYSIA staged its 15th edition of the Formula One (F1) race last weekend. Under the current contract, which became effective in, it will hold its 17th and last race in 2015.
Is the government game for F1 to continue beyond 2015? Should the public chide it if the government were to seek and get a contract extension to hold the world’s hottest race?
Nearly two years ago, the writer penned that F1 is a big business. It is a prestigious and an expensive endeavour. But at the same time, F1 creates an impact that is far reaching. It can be felt beyond motorsports and tourism — covering sectors such as food and beverage, transportation and related sevices.
Hence, the writer reiterates that we should urge the government to ask for the next extension from F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
It’s good to hear from Prime Mi-nister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that the government is seriously considering the possibility of extending the contract to host the race.
“Organising the Formula One has put Malaysia on the world map. It shows that Malaysia can organise an international event of this stature.
“We have support from the local as well as the international communities. So, all in all, it has been positive,” Najib said after presenting the trophy to winner Sebastian Vettel of Infiniti Red Bull Racing team last Sunday.
The prime minister has acknowledged the race’s big impact. And the writer takes his quote as indirectly to mean that it is now up to Sepang International Circuit Sdn Bhd (SIC) to discuss with Ecclestone on a contract extension that spells more favourable terms for us.
The hefty cost of hosting F1 largely consists of royalty/franchise fees for Ecclestone’s FOM (Formula One Management).
Generally, we have gained more from F1 than what we have spent hosting it. We cannot lose it while there are many other countries wanting to get involved as well.
Former Singapore premier Lee Kuan Yew told this writer’s immediate boss more than 10 years ago that one of his regrets was not taking up the offer to hold F1 race earlier.
Malaysia became the first Asian country after Japan to host the race in the modern era.
Since the inaugural race in 1999, the 5.54km Sepang track has provided great challenge not only because of its tricky layout, but also because our unpredictable weather — from high sulking temperature to torrid rain and thunderstorm — makes the race more intriguing.
Only later Singapore had found out that “the positives” outweighed “the negatives” of holding F1 races. China, India and Bahrain were the more recent Asian additions to the F1 list of host nations. Thailand is lobbying to hold a one-night F1 race on the streets of Bangkok in 2015.
SIC does not have the financial troubles plaguing Germany’s famous Nürburgring track (Nürburgring GmbH officially filed for bankruptcy recently), but it does need some money to rejuvenate the Sepang track.
As of now, the future of Sepang is certain for two more years, and here’s hoping the local house of speed will hold F1 race beyond 2015.