The boss of the Sepang circuit, Razlan Razali, has admitted that the host of Malaysia’s Formula 1 Grand Prix should host a night race before its contract runs out in 2015.
In an interview with the AFP news agency, Razali conceded that his circuit – which has hosted the Grands Prix since 1999 and is among the first to be designed by Hermann Tilke – has progressively “lost its lustre” over time, while also arguing that the continued success of the night race hosted in neighbouring Singapore was hurting its bottom line.
“Our biggest competitor is the television, as many people prefer to watch the race from the comfort of their homes,” he added.
This is despite Sepang offering some of the cheapest ticket packages on the Formula 1 calendar, where it is believed that just 100,000 fans attend the three-day event, at a venue that Razali believes is becoming more “tired-looking”.
The biggest challenge Sepang faces to boost crowd numbers is that it received little in the way of government support or funding to maintain and improve its facilities, despite the circuit’s constructions being very much at the behest of the Malaysian government.
“When it rains, [the grandstand roof] leaks. People are not happy. The circuit was built in record time but unfortunately there were shortcuts and poor maintenance,” he continued.
But he has suggested that one means of boosting crowd figures would be to floodlight the circuit and host a night race, which would certainly appeal to F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
“We should do one night race before we extend the 2015 contract. Maybe this will attract a bigger crowd as the weather at night will be cool.”
[Original image via The Cahier Archive]