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The government has announced that it will be repacking the Formula 1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix this year in a bid to improve the event’s appeal, following a 35% drop in tickets sales recorded over the latest three years.

According to Nanyang Siang Pau, Sepang International Circuit’s CEO, Datuk Razlan Razali, believes that Malaysians still maintain a strong affinity for the sport. He claims that the global economic downturn has taken its toll on tourists coming to Malaysia from the big event, but that won’t stop Malaysia from hosting Formula 1, or making the most of it in the coming years.

“With a very strong economic benefit to draw upon, Malaysia is not about the give up its hosting rights. Malaysia still needs F1. We need new planning to make the race grander,” said Razlan, who didn’t elaborate further on what those new plans could entail.

At the moment, SIC is closed for mandatory upgrading works until early May this year, as instructed by Formula 1 and MotoGP governing bodies, FIA and FIM. The track is currently being resurfaced and we understand that it may possibly add a fourth circuit configuration to join the existing full track and the shorter north and south loops.

Sepang International Circuit - Track Closure

The Malaysian leg of the Formula 1 World Championship, which is typically held in March or April, has been pushed back this year to October 2 – immediately after the Singapore F1 GP on September 18. The new timing of the event has drawn its fair share of negative criticisms, but the SIC chief feels positively about this.

“I think it’s great for the event, because we have a long promotion period to promote the race. Based on the feedback from travel agents, both local and international, they like it because it gives them more time to promote the race to the European market. The European market is our key market,” Razlan told last month.

“Singapore has more to worry about rather than us. We were affected by spectator numbers dropping when they held their race in 2008 anyway. Now. we’re turning the tables in some ways, because we want to capture the global audience that could potentially attend two F1s in the region,” he continued.

In 2015, statistics show that just over 80,000 tickets were sold for the Malaysian GP, compared to 92,550 in the year before that and 123,400 in 2013.