Fading from Malaysia F1 will still rule in Asian cities

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The Malaysian Grand Prix will hold its final edition on Oct. 1, bringing an end to one of the longest-running Formula One races in Asia.

The race struggled in recent years to attract fans and local television viewers and this is perhaps a confirmation of the tough economic times in Malaysia.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Friday the government had decided to pull out of F1 because of the high cost of staging the event and declining ticket sales and tourism figures.

The anticipated retreat however does not impact Petronas, the national oil giant, that will continue to sponsor the Mercedes team.

Last week in a media interview, Petronas said F1 has helped the oil giant in its bid to feature its brand on the international market, and wished the F1 race would continue in Malaysia.

Competition from other races in Asia has taken a toll on the Malaysian GP, according to Malaysia.

In a statement, Prime Minister Najib Razak said 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.

“It’s always sad to say goodbye to a member of the Formula One family,” Sean Bratches, F1 managing director for commercial operations, said in Shanghai. ”

Malaysian Formula One fans have proven themselves to be some of the most passionate supporters.”

The French Grand Prix will also return to the F1 calendar in 2018 after a 10-year absence.

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