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Malaysia would reject F1 even if it was free, says promoter

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While the F1 community laments losing the Malaysia GP, its promoters appear more than happy to see the relationship come to an end.

A consistent decline in ticket sales in recent years coupled with eroding local interest left Sepang's promoter Razlan Razali with no other choice but to terminate Malaysia's contract with F1 a year early.

Razali also cited the race's hefty franchise fee and its annual inflation rate imposed by Bernie Ecclestone over the years as another reason to pull the plug on an event he now would not even accept fro free!

"Even if we got the greatest of deals, do it for free for example, what’s the product?" Razali told Reuters.

"I myself am not able to sit in front of the television and watch from lap one until whatever lap (for) two hours.

"It’s hard to sell this kind of event and to get bums on the seat...and it’s not worth the investment at the moment."

Interestingly, the promoter admitted that attendance figures took a hit in 2014, when F1 ushered in the era of the V6 turbo-hybrid engine and its muffled sound.

From 88,450 spectators in 2013, the numbers progressively dwindled down to 46,944 in 2016. By contrast, tickets for next month's Moto GP race are all sold out.

Unfortunately, Ecclestone's departure from the helm and Liberty Media's arrival has not been enough to turn the Malaysia GP around.

"I turn it back to the media -- what changes have you seen that makes it any more exciting than in the Bernie days, in terms of the sport, in terms of racing, what have they done?," he asked.

"Fans engagement, yes. What they have done off-track...it’s great but what triggers for someone to buy tickets to come to the circuit?

"It’s the product, the sport, not because of the activation they have done. They did not work hard enough for us to change our minds," he stated.

Razali wouldn't rule out however a return of Malaysia on the Grand Prix calendar, if the show improved and brought back the fans.

"The easiest part is to come back and negotiate with Liberty Media for F1 to come back," he concluded.

"The hard part still is whether the sport has changed for the better..."

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