Next weekend will see the 19th Malaysian Grand Prix to be held at the Sepang International Circuit. Sadly, it looks like it might also be the last. The event has been left off the 2018 Formula 1 calendar due to declining ticket sales.
The very first F1 Grand Prix to be held in the country was on 17 October 1999. Then as now the race took place over 56 laps of the 5.542km (3.444-mile) circuit, in cloudy and hot conditions. The event marked the return of Ferrari's Michael Schumacher after breaking his leg at Silverstone.
Schumacher won pole position in qualifying. However, he knew that he was well out of running for the championship. When the race started, he soon pulled over to allow his teammate Eddie Irvine to take the lead, and the win. It put him four points ahead in the championship. However, Hakkinen snatched the title with victory in Japan two weeks later.
Since Irvine, other drivers to have stood on the top step in Sepang are Schumacher (three times), and his brother Ralf; Kimi Raikkonen (twice); Fernando Alonso (three wins); Giancarlo Fisichella; Jenson Button; Lewis Hamilton; and Daniel Ricciardo.
However the most successful F1 driver of all in Malaysia is Sebastian Vettel. He's won here on four occasions (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015). And the most successful team is Ferrari, with a total of seven victories. If that holds true next week, then the title fight between Vettel and Hamilton might get a lot tighter...