By Joe Worthington
THE Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix race is the highlight of the international car racing circuit. Thousands of loyal fans are attracted annually to the race which has been held at the Sepang International Circuit since 1999, owing to the continuing popularity of the 56 lap 192.878 mile race.
The predecessor to the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix was the Formula 2 which was held from 1962 – 65, but it was held in Singapore who later gained independence from the Malaysian Federation, so during the break-up of the Federation Malaysia held four lower impact races at the Shah Alam circuit from 1968 until 1995 when the current race track was opened in Sepang. These were the Tasman Series, Formula Pacific, Formula Atlantic, and the Formula Holden.
The Sepang International Circuit, where the Formula 1 race is held, is located just 60 kilometres from the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, and is situated only 10 minutes from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Selangor State. The circuit was designed by a German named Hermann Tilke in 1995, who also designed the Shanghai, Turkish, Bahrain, India, Korea, Valencia, and Singapore circuits which are also in the Formula 1 race calendar. The Sepang circuit is famous for its short and tight hairpin and unusually long back straight.
Petronas (Malaysian: Petroliam Nasional Berhad), the Malaysian national oil and gas company, has sponsored the Malaysian Grand Prix since its inauguration into the racing calendar since 1999. The energy company finances the upkeep of the track and the spectator stands, they supply the oil and petroleum for the racing cars, and they are responsible for the security of the race.
The most famous racer at the Malaysian Grand Prix of all time was John MacDonald who won races in the years of 1970, 1971, 1973, and 1975. John was English born but moved to live in Hong Kong during his national service, where he continued to live and set up a garage business which made him successful and allowed him to become a successful racer also.
The most successful racing team to compete in the Malaysian Grand Prix is Ferrari thanks to the successes of Michael Schumacher in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2008, and 2012.
The annual race, held every year towards the end of March, attracts approximately 50,000 spectators from all around the world, some just to see their favourite racing star, but others to feel the excitement and exhilaration of the head to head race between man and man, country and country, sponsor and sponsor.
Most Formula 1 racers unanimously agree that the Malaysian Grand Prix is by far the most stress inducing and physically demanding race in the whole Formula 1 calendar. Temperatures are torturous and regularly reach 30 degrees Celsius and when combined with the humidity, which is rarely lower than 75%, the climate alone drains all drivers of energy even before putting in any effort to race. Malaysia, but Kuala Lumpur in particular, is famous for its unexpected heavy rain downpours which often disrupt the car racing, causing crashes and severe car damage.
The actual race track has been called “the most environmentally friendly race track in the world” by various commentators because of its abundance of palm trees. The track was built on a former 260 hectare palm oil plantation, so to compensate for the loss of plants the owners planted hundreds of palm trees around the race track, spectator’s stands, and spectator’s recreation areas.
In the latest Malaysian Grand Prix, the 2012 season, which was held on 25th March, the leader of the driver’s championship, Fernando Alonso with his Ferrari team, came first after a breathtaking and sometimes risky race. Just 2.2 seconds behind Alonso was the less well known Sergio Perez with his Sauber team, and then came the former world champion Lewis Hamilton and the McLaren-Mercedes not long after. It made for an unforgettable race in the beautiful country of Malaysia.
Many people, especially those coming from Europe and the Americas combine watching the Malaysia Formula 1 Grand Prix with a relaxing holiday elsewhere in the country. The Malaysian Government praises this as it brings in much needed tourism income in the form of taxes, shop purchases, transport income, and accommodation income. Kuala Lumpur International Airport as the country’s main airport is also kept busy during the races. The Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix could be an unforgettable experience, so why not give it a try and book your tickets in time for the next race?
If you enjoyed this article and would like to find out more about travelling to Malaysia, please visit the Tourism Malaysia website
About the author…
Joe Worthington (UK)
Joe Worthington is a multi-published travel & political writer and editor who has had work published in various high profile magazines, websites, and travel guides, including inflight magazines, tourism board websites, and world heritage publications. He is always on the lookout for new work opportunities and loves to travel whenever he has the opportunity to do so. You can find more of his writing at Travel With Joe Magazine.