Will Malaysia host F1 this year?

It has been three years since the last Malaysian Formula One race as the cost of being part of the F1 circus didn’t make sense.

However, with the Covid-19 pandemic messing up this year’s F1 calendar, there is an opening for Malaysia to return for a one-off race at the end of the year – on the cheap. The other possible host is Vietnam.

A source, in confirming this, told Twentytwo13: “It will not cost Malaysia and Vietnam much as the F1 bosses are desperate to have at least 18 races this year.

“They are willing to waive the hosting rights and other add-ons as they want to fulfil their obligations to the sponsors.”

Sepang International Circuit (SIC), however, has yet to receive any formal request to host a race.

“Looking at the current situation, we may not be able to host as our calendar is packed. Even if we are offered a great package, I would say the chances are minimal,” said another industry source.

“SIC’s calendar has been changed as many events were postponed due to Covid-19. If SIC hosts a race, the organisers must ensure the health and safety of those involved are well taken care of.”

In 2016, former Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz revealed the government had spent around RM300 million a year to be an F1 host. But with the China and Singapore Grand Prix off the calendar this year, Formula One needs to include Asian races as under FIA regulation, Article 2.4.3.b of the International Sports Code reads: “to be considered a World Championship, races need be held on at least three continents”.

There are reports FIA, the governing body, has informed Formula One this year’s campaign will be a World Championship even if it doesn’t race on three continents due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

F1 bosses, however, are still hopeful of racing in Asia. Earlier this week, its managing director of motorsport, Ross Brawn, told grandprix247: “Not yet (ready to comment on the Malaysia possibility). Hopefully, we will do some races in Asia, that’s our ambition. We are as flexible as we can be, as the situation is getting better, getting worse in different countries.”

After the aborted season opener in Australia in March, all the confirmed races for this season are in Europe with three rounds already over – Austria (July 3-5 and July 10-12) and Hungary (July 17-19).

The British Grand Prix is happening this weekend. It will be followed by another race in Britain (Aug 7-9), Spain (Aug 14-16), Belgium (Aug 28-30), Italy (Sept 4-6 and Sept 11-13), Russia (Sept 25-27), Nurburgring (Oct 9-11), Portimao (Oct 23-25) and Imola (Oct 31-Nov 1).

Bahrain and Abu Dhabi are expected to confirm their races for December soon, leaving November available for the Asian swing.

Meanwhile, it also remains unclear if the Malaysian MotoGP will be held this year. Scheduled for Oct 31 to Nov 1, a decision was supposed to be made this week but this has now been postponed to early next month.