Formula One Grand Prix races will no longer be hosted in Malaysia once the current contract ends in 2018, the government confirmed on Friday, underlining the precarious future of the sport in Southeast Asia.
The F1 races in Malaysia and Singapore have been hit by declining ticket sales at a time when fans have complained that the sport is growing increasingly predictable.
Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement: “The Cabinet has agreed to end the contract for hosting the Formula One race starting 2018 after considering the diminishing returns to the country compared to the cost of hosting the championships.”
State oil and gas group Petronas will continue to sponsor the Mercedes team as part of its marketing strategy, the prime minister said.
Malaysia’s tourism minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz had said in November that the country will stop hosting the racing championships after the current agreement expires next year.
Petronas, whose profits have been hit by the oil price slump, has been the title sponsor for the F1 race in Kuala Lumpur since the inaugural event in 1999.