What is the point in having F1 race in Malaysia ?

Sorry sight, empty grandstands during qualifying

Sorry sight, empty grandstands during qualifying

After watching the weekend of F1 action from Sepang I wonder:

1) The grandstands were empty all Friday and Saturday. That is clear message that not too many people really care whether the F1 is in town or not. And that is after 10 years of trying to create some interest in F1 in Malaysia. I am sorry, but having the qualifying for F1 race in front of empty grandstands that simply is not right …

2) Then, because the European TV audiences are more important than some common sense, the race has to start at 5pm, time that makes the race very likely to get extremely wet. Yes, rain is part of our lives and it rains at Spa, Silverstone, Nurburgring, it can even happen at Hungaroring … The difference is the odds that the race that starts at Sepang at 5pm will be hit by storm are really big and the organizers must know it very well. Still, to keep the race that only costs them money, that local people do not really care about, they back down and accept the 5pm race start.

So, the local people are not interested, the race must be making big loss, the normal race start is too early in the morning for the fans in Europe and apparently the only way how to make them in Europe to watch is to run it at the hour of rainstorms.

What is the point in having the F1 race in Malaysia ?

35 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Gavin Brown (RubberGoat)No Gravatar says:

    There isn’t a point to take away a race with a lot of fans and history and replace it with a Tilke-drome in a country that doesn’t care for F1 and where the start time has to be moved back to suit European audiences anyway.

    Sepang, Shanghai, Istanbul, Bahrain – all spectacular failures and never really have produced a good race. Bring back proper circuits, coz it’s obvious with the 2009 rules we will see more overtaking anyway!

    • JRNo Gravatar says:

      With all due respect, you are cherrypicking.

      Singapore last year was a spectacular course and a spectacular race.

      When you say “never really produced a good race” you are forgetting these tracks are brand new. The reason the older circuits have produced “good races” is because they have had many more races. Take any track and come up with a “percentage” of good races and I’d be more willing to countenance your point.

      Auto racing has never been stable. Look at reducing the Mulsanne staright at LeMans from 4 miles to three sections. Classic example.

      Other sports wouldn’t even have given Brawn a chance. Yet look at how that has energized things.

  2. KotenokNo Gravatar says:

    Twisting the championship every year for making it more exciting isn’t right, someday will get overtwisted… That’s just not fair, destinations which had lots of spectators already passed to a better live, just because nobody could invest the sum demanded for organizing a GP, but Malaysian in Sepang survives because receives ministery funds, but not many go there…

    • JRNo Gravatar says:

      I agree, Kotenok, but you have to remember, F1 is fabulously expensive. Malaysia is a poor country. Yes, they have oil, but they are still an importer.

      Look at France. France (Renault) is a major auto-racing hub (so I thought) – but they dropped their F1 circuit. Germany should be able to support two. Belgium (Spa) is a small country – who supports their program (German and European tourists)?

      I have no opinion on this, I just hope there is more questioning and analysis.

      Personally, I like the tracks in China and Singapore and Malaysia and I hope they stay.

      I like Japan. I think Japan should subsidize two races a year instead of switching between Fuji and _____ ( I forget they name, somebody help me, Suzuka?)

  3. seskuNo Gravatar says:

    just because of the rain and all of you guy said bad thing about malaysian gp the ***** bernie asking for twilight. the local already protested but the ***** bernie didn’t listen. sepang circuit should remain on the calendar because its the 1st modern f1 circuit. other circuit like turkey,bahrain,shanghai and abu dhabi just crap.stop add races in asia stupid bernie. korea and india is bad country with no racing culture and doing bad in a1gp. sepang was the 1st f1 circuit in asia except japan. look at the half of the race, it was full, full of action, only rain cause so much mess. spectator is less because of the ***** bernie ask for twilight races which is not in favor with local.

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      but no one forced the organizers to go for the twilight race … if they knew that spectators would not come that what is the point organizing the race ? that is my question. I am not questioning the quality of the track but the logic behind having a race that has no local support and has to be moved to ridiculous time to get some TV viewing figures …

    • KotenokNo Gravatar says:

      I do not regret that Sepang host uninteresting races, my opinion is that there is a great circuit, among my favorites because of its characteristics and tuff weather conditions.

      I would say, the lack of interest is relative to the time which the venue has been promoted, and the time which Malaysia hosted the event. There has been a GP for 11 years, the interest may have raised by locals and worldwide followers considerably, and such other countries which you named still didn’t host a GP ever, it’s just suspected and calculated that people may interest in there…
      Abu Dhabi needs another point of view, most of the money going into F1 is coming from there, there are great investors and many enthusiasts of F1 since decades, it’s not a surprise that they build almost an F1 theme park (well, they do!). You should face it as an approximation to customers which run this market, their wealthy economy is rising since 30 years and are a big benefit for everybody, in large proportion for Bernie in lower proportion for the teams, but everybody will receive a slice from the cake.

      Returning to Malaysian GP, the weather didn’t change my feeling about the race… But it’s clearly not very successful as the track is almost empty, and such enormous grandstands have potential :) There’s not much teasing towards the fans to fly in there for seeing the race live for example, even I don’t really figure out how much the tickets may cost… The advertisement about the event is little or not done properly, as the organizers already claimed. This calls few locals and a minority of incoming tourists, so I’m thinking that the ideas of F1Wolf were published in order to make visible that there’s something wrong, and I agree with the post.

      Kotenoks last blog post..Kotenok updated their profile

    • JRNo Gravatar says:

      “korea and india is bad country with no racing culture”

      This is just racist.

      “sepang was the 1st f1 circuit in asia except japan”

      That would make it the 2nd. That would make you a moron or at least bad at math.

  4. PuneetNo Gravatar says:

    The race was brilliant, the confusion at the end was terrible.

  5. kiewNo Gravatar says:

    On the race day (Sunday) it self there are a lot of people, and I can see after 10 years, the environment have improved. I think you should post picture of Sunday race too, otherwise it will not show the whole picture.

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      yes, there were more people there for Sunday and most of them paid the 3 day tickets anyway so no one cares if they showed up for every day or for race only. But I posted the qualifying picture on purpose to make my point. I simply think that it is shame that the F1 drivers have to fly out to hot and humid place and go around the track for 2 days in front of empty grandstands.

      • JRNo Gravatar says:

        “I simply think that it is shame that the F1 drivers have to fly out to hot and humid place and go around the track for 2 days in front of empty grandstands.”

        That is their job. I am the greatest admirer of F1 drivers, but please don’t let me ever feel pity for them. These are the luckiest humans on the planet.

        I’m sure Kimi can find ways to pass the time in this “hot and humid place.”

        If he can’t, I would be glad to accompany him (and you) next year to show you how it is done. I guarrantee I can get Kimi to the starting grid sober and well rested on Sunday. Or in any condition he likes.

        • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

          yes, that is their job, I agree. I just find it silly they are asked to perform somewhere few people really care about that, and to make audiences elsewhere to watch they have to move the race start to a silly hour. At the same time places like Montreal are kicked out of the calendar

          • JRNo Gravatar says:

            F1W –

            It is YOUR job, with your influence to move race times. Though I differ on opinion sometimes, you have my full backing. You represent a constituency.

            Personally, I don’t view F1 the same way you do. I don’t see it as “places” – I see it as a truly international sport and what you see as places I simply see as good racetracks and races.

            There is no need to debate on this point. I completely agree with you. I just look at it differently, but I completely understand. If it were up to me, I’d have a race in Baghdad and one in Kabul and I’d have the US taxpayer set up widescreen viewing stations all around both countries. Those people love TV.

            I don’t know where you are from, but in my experience, Europeans want to keep F1 a Euro sport like Americans want to hold onto baseball.

            It’s already gone. Once the Chinese (with Singapore) get ahold of it, they are gonna be competitive. Look at Hyundai. What’s a good Brazilian car? Hyundai is now the 5th biggest manufacturer (mainly producing and selling in the US). Nakajima is just the latest. You don’t think there will be more decent Japanese drivers?

            It’s coming, get used to it.

            Personally Spa has always been my favorite track. But I gotta say, I liked Singapore last year. At night. That was a lotta fun.

            So move Sapang and Aussie back an hour or two. But what are you gonna do, cut a Spanish race so you can get Canada or Magny Cours. I’d rather have two German races.


            Why not India?

            These are questions you are going to have to tackle F1W. You are our leader.

  6. @macdonmtNo Gravatar says:

    First, I thought the race was awesome, except for the rain and confusion at the end. Frankly, if the weather had avoided the monsoon, it would have finished a really great race. I also think the Sepang circuit is pretty sweet.

    Second, you have to remember that F1 will go where the money is… regardless of what the fans ultimately think. The amount of coin put up to hold an F1 race (and build a track) is considerable. Large investment is required, not only by the government, but also local businesses. If a local business wants a race bad enough, they’ll get it. That’s why there’s not a race in the US (and no US drivers in F1 frankly) because businesses don’t want to get behind it with serious money. (I realize in the US there’s a “chicken before the egg” type thing going on…)

    Third, Bernie needs these fly away races to “expand” F1 to new audiences. Granted, they might not be ready for it, or they might not care, or they might loose interest, but on paper F1 is going to 18 countries and is exposed to millions (billions?) of people.

    Fourth, Bernie needs these new races to pressure the traditional races to step up with more money. He’s taken a very strong “I don’t care where F1 has been, I care about where it’s going” stance. To me, that sounds like the highest bidder, who puts the most coin in FOM’s pocket, will win. He’s obviously willing to sacrifice the safety and quality of the sport to make more money, and shows no remorse for it. But the key is that he’s pressuring the old guard races into improving facilities and bringing in more money. Unfortunately, if there’s not enough $ to call his bluff, you find out he’s not really bluffing… IE Silverstone, Spa in the past, France, Imola, etc…

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      there is nothing wrong about expanding the F1 calendar to new countries. but where are the new audiences ?one thing is to pay big bucks and bring F1 race to new place, but then also something should be done to also fill those grandstands …

    • JRNo Gravatar says:

      Excellent points, Mac. Stick around.

  7. DSF2No Gravatar says:

    Thanks, again for removing the Montreal race and keeping Sepang.
    I wonder how many cars the big manufacturers are selling in Malaysia ?

  8. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    The quality of the race probably has more to do with the new regulations in building the cars, then the track. The cars might be ugly, but they promote passing.

    I didn’t notice the lack of fans in practice or qualifying on Speed TV. I probably wasn’t focused on it either.

    It all comes down to one thing, $$$$ in Bernie’s pockets. And it comes at the expense of better locations and better fan support. Eventually that has to cost him, but Bernie is living for today. It obviously doesn’t matter where the teams sell their advertisers products or cars, because if it did, the US would never have lost its race.

    I do have to give Bernie credit for the new cars. The racing is much better this year. I watched the IRL race at St. Petersburg Sunday afternoon and it was horrible. There was virtually no passing amoungst the leaders, and the little passing that did happen usually resulted in a wreck. The course was way too tight and the cars simply not made for good road racing.

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      I do have to give Bernie credit for the new cars.

      I am not sure if Bernie is the right person to get the credit for new cars. The rules are Made in FIA and that is the land of Max Mosley.

    • JRNo Gravatar says:

      “I didn’t notice the lack of fans in practice or qualifying on Speed TV. I probably wasn’t focused on it either.”

      Yeah, I didn’t either, and I see this stuff peripherally. What do they look like at other races?

      We (the TV audience) are in fact the true “fans” or “audience” – or at least a huge part of it.

      In the final analysis I’ll let the Sepang Box office tell the story.

      • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

        for example a week ago in Australia (where drop in overall audiences was widely reported) the grandstands were quite full from very first session on Friday morning…

  9. JRNo Gravatar says:

    “And that is after 10 years of trying to create some interest in F1 in Malaysia.”

    One one level I agree with your analysis. One another – we have to ask – how popular is auto-racing overall. NASCAR, which is the stupidest form of racing in all of motorsports, but has been wildly popular in the US for years, has attendence down considerably this last year. A lot of this has to do with the economy.

    China is not very popular. France now doesn’t have a race. Canada as well.

    I like Mlalaysia and I hope India adds a race. Just my personal feelings. I would really like to see this an international sport, not simply Europe. Maybe Malaysia is a sacrifice we have to make to achieve that.

    As far as Friday and Saturday, maybe they need to lower ticket prices. On Sunday I saw a lot of people in the rain enjoying the spectacle.

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      Canada did not loose the race because it was not popular but only because the organizers were not able to pay the fees asked by Ecclesstone, despite the huge crowds …

      I am not sure about France, but we will see once the new track not in the middle of nowehere is built

      I doubt the ticket prices are the reason why the Malaysian grandstands were empty on Sat and Sun. As far as I remember the tickets for Sunday cover also Saturdays and Fridays so those who filled up the grandstands on SUnday paid their seats for other 2 days too (unless something changed since last time I went to Sepang for F1 in 2007). The only GP I have been to so far where tickets were sold separately for each day was Monaco …

      • JourneyerNo Gravatar says:

        Admission was free on Friday – tickets were only for Saturday and Sunday. Crowd level on Saturday was poor everywhere. On Sunday, it was good at the Mall, but poor everywhere else.

        F1 shouldn’t be about the money, it should be about the sport. And if Malaysia can’t even fill its stands, why have 2 races in 1 peninsula? Stick to Singapore and give the Malaysian spot to a more deserving place – like North America, perhaps?

        • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

          then it is even worse than I thought. if people aren’t interested in seeing F1 car in action even free of charge then the GP is simply a waste of a spot in the calendar …

          • JRNo Gravatar says:

            Bahh, you’re way too pessimistic, you are not looking at the overall economy.

            It is bad out there, and Saturdays and before are tough days because people have kids and families and it is wickedly expensive to bring everybody out on an adventure.

            Typically the people that go to these things are hardcore male fans who are into the sport and have friends who also are. Like us.

            I don’t know what you blokes call the seats, but in the US, you’ve got “boxseats” and “bleachers” and “luxury boxes.”

            The boxseats for a ballgame are between $30 and $150 – much more for playoffs -depending on sport and whatnot. Bleachers have been as low as $7 (in 1997 for the Red Sox, I’m from Boston) There is no way you’re paying $7 now. I’m guessing the bleachers are $30 minimum. This is for 1 game. They play 120 a year. You can guess what decent “boxseats” are.

            So what’s an F1 seat cost?

  10. TwoBigPawsNo Gravatar says:

    I think we all have to understand that Bernie’s F1 circus is a business…if the Malaysian government will front more cash than someone else to have a race and promote Malaysia on the world stage Bernie will hold a race there. It’s a bonus that people show up; he’s getting solid TV ratings in Europe from the race, he’s getting a bucketload of cash from Malaysia…and Malaysia is getting some exposure it wouldn’t have otherwise had. I’m sure the drivers would love to be racing in-front of 100,000’s of people, but F1 isn’t first and foremost a live “spectator sport”; it’s a business, and one that makes $ from tv rights and venues.

    Why would Bernie go elsewhere? He doesn’t see a cent from ticket sales (I don’t think, or at least i understand it to be insignificant)

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      I am not sure I Bernie does’n see a cent from ticket sales but it is very much possible as the tickets sales are the only source of income for the race organizers (except some special local F1 taxes perhaps if government is involved)

  11. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    It all goes to what I F1 has become, a way for Bernie to make a quick buck.

    I have to give credit to Tony George when he refused to pay the ridiculous fee that Bernie demanded and let F1 leave Indy. Originally I was pissed at him. Now it seems he was ahead of his time.

    While America still has not taken F1 to heart like it has Nascar, we still had 100,000+ people in the stands on race day and great crowds all weekend. Apparently that does not matter anymore.

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      While America still has not taken F1 to heart like it has Nascar, we still had 100,000+ people in the stands on race day and great crowds all weekend. Apparently that does not matter anymore.

      yes, it does not matter anymore, unfortunately. and that’s why lost Montreal too …

  12. AlvinKNo Gravatar says:

    all these arguments are wasting time..the real problem is bernie and his greed..it has nothing to do with tracks, attendance at sepang, heritage or anything..it’s just about the money..he wants the best of both worlds..good european tracks with high viewership figures and asian countries willing to pay through the nose to stage races..

    either somebody with a balanced sense (and who realises that he can’t take all that money to the grave with him) takes over or ..actually that is the only solution..

    • KotenokNo Gravatar says:

      That’s extreme :P But I also suggested time ago a mistaken deer hunter… Anyway, things ever should be done like that and a rise against the high level decisions are always taking place by the teams and drivers, public complains of the people attached to F1 somehow and popular grumble to the system which runs them.

      Kotenoks last blog post..F1Wolf added a video


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