It’s finally official – 2017 will be the final year of the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix, and no further F1 races will be held from 2018 onwards. This was confirmed by prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as well as a statement posted on the race series’ official website.

The premier announced that the Cabinet has agreed to end the F1-hosting contract citing poor returns for the country relative to the cost of organising the event. “In the early stages of its organisation here, the F1 races helped to promote the country as a world-class sporting destination, as well as promoting Malaysia as a global tourist destination,” Najib said.

“However, it is time that the government review the organisation of the F1 races by taking into account the changes which have taken place since we began organising it in 1999. This decision was made after taking into account reports and views from Sepang International Circuit (SIC) on the financial impact to all relevant parties,” he added.

The ever-decreasing number of viewers, visitors and number of tourist arrivals since several years ago meant the government would be at a disadvantage, as it has to bear the high costs of organising the event annually.

“In 1999, only 16 countries played host to the prestigious race, including two Asian countries. This has since increased to 21 nations, with six Asian countries, effectively leading to a reduction in returns to the organiser and the country,” he stated, adding that funding can now be redirected to developing local motorsport talents, infrastructure as well as knowledge and technology transfer.

“The government will also use existing allocations for the use of other racing events such as MotoGP and Go-kart, building a racing circuit in Sungai Petani, upgrading SIC facilities on top of helping our professional racing drivers become F1 drivers,” he explained in a blog posting.

However, Sepang International Circuit will continue to play a role in promoting Malaysia globally, as it will continue to host other motorsport events such as the MotoGP and other races. Najib also pointed out that Petronas will continue to sponsor the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team as part of the company’s branding strategy.

“The Malaysian government acknowledges the support provided by Formula One Management (FOM) throughout the period of the race organisation for the last 19 years. I also wish to convey my deepest appreciation over FOM’s understanding and agreement that the 2017 F1 race in Sepang will be the final one at the circuit,” he said.

Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations in Formula 1 also shared his appreciation: “It’s always sad to say goodbye to a member of the Formula 1 family. Over nearly two decades, the Malaysian Formula 1 fans have proven themselves to be some of the sport’s most passionate supporters.”

“We will have 21 exciting events to look forward to in the 2018 calendar, with the additions of the French and German races. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Sepang International Circuit for their hospitality and professionalism over the years, and their ongoing commitment to motorsport,” he said.