- Malaysian Grand Prix
Tired Sepang needs investment
Malaysia's Formula One venue is "tired" and needs a "revamp", circuit boss Razlan Razali admitted as drivers arrived for this year's race.
Sepang was the first of the new wave of Hermann Tilke-designed tracks to join the Formula One calendar, but the inaugural event dates back 12 years and the place is now beginning to look worn. Razali told local newspaper Today that, for example, the roofs of the unique grandstands are in need of major repairs after years of exposure to the weather.
"We need to revamp the whole circuit," he said. "The membrane on the roof of our main grandstand has already outlived its usefulness and has to be replaced. We are still 'version 1', but I am not saying Sepang should be like Abu Dhabi, which is already 'version 1001', but at least our track needs to get on par with Shanghai and Bahrain."
Razali said the cost of bringing Sepang up to scratch is more than $60 million. "Without it , we have been able to improve only the paddock area, which Bernie usually frequents. But, seriously, lots more need to be done, there are cracks here and there that need patching."
He said the Malaysian government was fully supportive of the Grand Prix for the first "four or five years" but then lost interest. "Maybe with the change in leadership, some ministries did not think Sepang and motor sport were important to Malaysia."
Government officials visited the track last week. "It is a good sign," said Razali. "I think with Lotus Formula 1 on the grid and our very own Fairuz Fauzy in the team, interest from the government is returning. Should they approve our request for funds, we can get to work immediately and get Sepang up to speed by next year."
Three years ago Bernie Ecclestone criticised the venue saying it had "become like an old house that needs a bit of redecorating. It's starting to get a little shabby and looks a bit tired. The circuit itself is fine, it's the general structure around. There is rubbish all over the place and it's not really a good sign for Malaysia. We're on worldwide television and it needs to look good, much like in the beginning."