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The Malaysian F1 Grand Prix kicks off in October, however it was recently announced that this year will be it’s last. After 19 years as a staple of the F1 diet, the local government has said enough is enough. The rise in interest of other motorsports such as MotoGP, and the introduction of other glamour events in SE Asia have contributed to dwindling crowds over recent years. This, combined with a large expense to the government (which Bernie Ecclestone recently admitted was a case of overcharging) has resulted in the Prime Minister canning the event. Whilst we can see the rationale, it seems a shame to be rid of a race that’s given us so many memorable moments over the years. It’s one of our favourite events, so here’s why we think any F1 fan worth their salt ought to experience the Malaysian Grand Prix.
IT'S GREAT VALUE FOR MONEY
Formula 1 is a glamour sport, and some fans can be put off travelling to races in other countries due to the perceived costs. But if you’ve always wanted to experience the exhilaration and excitement of a Formula 1 race, without spending a boatload, then the Malaysian Grand Prix is surprisingly great value.
Packages start well below the $2,000 per person minimum it will cost you to get to the Singapore or Monaco GP, and include everything you need: 5 star accommodation in the culture capital of Kuala Lumpur, airport and track transfers, grandstand seats, a Grand Prix function where you’ll have the opportunity to meet a Formula 1 legend, and your flights to and from KL! To be able to get return international flights, a world class sporting event, and all the extras for under $2000 is an absolute steal. Simply put, the Malaysian Grand Prix is an event which gives you more for less!
IT'S NEVER SHORT OF A MEMORABLE MOMENT
In 2009, Kimi Raikkonen jump started internet memes with his hankering for ice cream. A typical downpour resulted in a stoppage, and while everyone else sat in their cars waiting for the race to restart, Raikkonen had clearly reached his limit. He jumped out of the car, popped on a pair of shorts, strode over to the fridge, and grabbed an ice cream. See exhibit A.
Then we had team personnel working in constant fear of electrocution.
Williams’ chief technical officer Paddy Lowe recalls: “I’ll never forget 2009…It was the first year with KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) and we were still learning our way around the high voltage in those systems. Then we had this race where the cars were literally swimming through inches of water…I remember a Ferrari was abandoned and no-one dared touch it.”
And lets not forget when the simmering tension between then Red Bull team-mates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber exploded.
THE CIRCUIT IS A RACING MASTERPIECE
It’s not often mentioned, but Sepang is the first of the modern Hermann Tilke-designed F1 circuits. The German has designed 10 new circuits that have appeared on the Formula One calendar since 1997, and his team have modified many others. Sepang is comfortably one of Tilke’s best, and combined with Malaysia’s wild weather and often ensuing chaos, it provides a real challenge and a thrilling watch. Lengthy high-speed straights, and tight twisting complexes make for an extremely technical and complicated race. It’s also perfect for overtaking as the track itself is very wide, in fact it’s one of the only circuits that still lets you pass mid race.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff shared his thoughts, stating that “It was one of the great circuits…for us emotionally it is a bit tough to overcome that it is going because it is a ‘home’ grand prix.”
It may not have the glamour of Singapore’s Night Race, or the prestige of Monaco, but boy is it a hell of a race. END may have already been typed upon the page, but the Malaysian Grand Prix is an ever-changing script, and is just one of those events you must experience live. A superb circuit, a city brimming with cultural experiences, great value for money, and an inclination for the unpredictable. If there was ever a time to pull out the passport and brush up on your gear changing impressions, it’s now!
Written by Jack Biss