Formula One could return to Malaysia at the Sepang International Circuit as early as 2022, with the prospect of Supercars joining them as a support category not ruled out.
The Malaysian Grand Prix was scrapped from the F1 calendar for 2018, with the 2017 edition being the last of Sepang’s contract before they decided to stop hosting it.
Sepang had been a fixture on the calendar since 1999 but decided to focus their investment elsewhere, whilst still retaining their most popular event, the Malaysian MotoGP, which has been staged there since 1991 and garnered more than 100,000 spectators in 2018.
The decision to drop F1 has seen space fill up for other categories to take its place and Supercars was one of those considered, with only a public survey by fans stopping it from getting over the line in 2017 for the following year.
“The last time we spoke on the V8s, initially we really wanted to have it to Malaysia as one of the alternative events to replacing Formula One,” Sepang International Circuit’s CEO Razlan Razali told foxsports.com.au.
“However, our board of directors felt it was necessary to conduct a fan survey from out social media platform and we did just that. The response was, unfortunately, that Supercars came fifth behind World Superbikes and Japan SuperGT.
“I will not say we’ve completely closed the door on them. If the demand is there… when we decided to end Formula One, there’s a lot of promotions besides Supercars that wanted to be the next big event for us. If there is a strong demand for Supercars in the future then we will definitely consider it.”
Current Supercars CEO Sean Seamer is a keen advocate of a staging a Supercars race outside of Australia and New Zealand with Singapore a contender as a support category for Formula One, as it has now become when the Australian Grand Prix comes to Melbourne.
However, since Seamer took over the role from predecessor James Warburton, Razali admitted he had not had any contact with Supercars.
“The last time we spoke [with Supercars] was to regret that we could not move forward because of the fan surveys that we did,” he added.
“They were very much aware of it. We received all the final proposals from them but the last stage was approval from the board so unfortunately the fans said otherwise on what they wanted to see next in Sepang. It’s all about what the fans want. That’s important.”
Supercars could still come to Sepang as part of a deal to bring back Formula One, which is a key desire of Malaysia’s new Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who also happens to be the founder of the Sepang International Circuit.
The Prime Minister was the man to first bring F1 to the country back in 1999 and Razali revealed it could be back on the calendar as early as 2022 – as long as the sport’s new owners Liberty Media still wanted Sepang, given their affinity for introducing more street circuit races.
“Our new Prime Minister Dr Mahathir, who founded the Sepang circuit and initially brought Formula One [here], is back in the government.
“He did express his desire that one day F1 will return but we maintain that we would like to live life without Formula One for at least five years from our last race in 2017. We shall wait and evaluate the situation.
“What I’ve heard is the last two years the situation has changed and I’m sure in the next two or three years Formula One will continue to evolve and get better in terms of racing.
“If they are pushing more for street races than circuit racing then we may want it back but they could not want us. We just have to wait and see how Formula One evolves and develops in the next couple of years but yes 2022 would be the latest.
“We did discuss in the past Supercars being a support race for F1. We discussed it but the reception from Formula One then was negative.
“But we’re open again if the Supercars come as one of the attractions to race together, I think it is doable, very doable. We would not discount that possibility, it could happen.”