The return of the Malaysian Grand Prix to the Formula 1 calendar is a “matter of time”, according to the president of the Motorsports Association Malaysia (MAM).

Malaysia began hosting a round of the World Championship in 1999, with the event being held annually at the Sepang circuit until it dropped off the roster at the end of 2017.

The president at the time, Najib Razak, explained that rising costs were the main reason behind the early cancellation of its contract and the race has not been featured on the F1 calendar since.

But, in a recent development, Tan Sri Mokhzani Mahathir has confirmed that Malaysia has a bigger desire to host an F1 round now than it did when it opted to discontinue its grand prix, provided it makes sense from a financial standpoint.

“In terms of being the host, it’s not a problem. It is a question of who is going to pay and whether we can afford it or not,” the MAM president told the New Straits Times. “I have no idea what is it (the cost) right now, but definitely it is higher than when we stopped in 2017.”

The MAM president claims they still receive comments from the current drivers stating that they miss the technical challenge provided by the popular Sepang circuit.

He, therefore, believes that the prospect of Malaysia marking a comeback to the F1 calendar won’t necessarily be far away.

“We get comments from drivers themselves that Sepang is one of the challenging tracks that they want to see back in the calendar,” he declared.

“We always have a good relationship with the organisers, we know them since 1996 when we start the discussion to host the race, so it is [a] matter of time.”

The drivers on the podium say thank you to Malayia and their Grand Prix. 01.10.2017. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 15, Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday.

Mahathir also believes the substantial increase in popularity brought by the hit Netflix series Drive to Survive has created a higher demand for hosting an F1 event.

“F1 is more popular than it used to be, it has a new audience after the Formula 1: Drive to Survive Netflix series while a lot of countries are bidding for the race as a statement for their country.”

The Minister of Youth and Sports of Malaysia, Hannah Yeoh, continued on by underlining that a venture into motorsports has a greater scope for development but safety must be prioritised.

“I have visited several stakeholders for motorsports, I believe this industry still has more potential to be developed. But we have to ensure safety is the main aspect,” she added.

Last September, however, Azhan Shafriman Hanif, chief executive of the Sepang International Circuit, said that reigniting the Malaysian F1 event was not under consideration until the country’s economic situation had improved.

“At this juncture, the answer is no, not for the time being,” he clarified. Perhaps in another two to three years when the economy has stabilised.”

Although F1 hasn’t been a fixture in Malaysia since its removal from the calendar, the Sepang circuit continues to annually host a round of the MotoGP World Championship.

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