LEWIS Hamilton – a triple Formula One world champion – said his sport is losing its toughest race with the departure of the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The existing contract at the Sepang circuit – which has hosted F1 since 1999 – had been due to expire after next year’s race.
But the Malaysian government said in April that this year’s race – which takes place on Sunday – would be the last.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said at the time that declining ticket sales, viewership and tourism were behind the decision.
Hamilton, who won in Malaysia in 2014, said he was disappointed the race was coming to an end.
“It is definitely sad to think this is the last race,” Hamilton told a news conference organised by his Mercedes team’s Malaysian oil sponsor Petronas.
“It’s the most challenging for the car and the team, so they are taking away one of the toughest, if not the toughest, Grand Prix of the season, which will be hard to replace.”
With cockpit temperatures that approach 50 degrees Celsius, and ambient humidity levels of around 70 percent, some drivers have likened the race to sitting in a sauna while wearing overalls.
Drivers can lose three litres of body fluid in sweat during the 90 minutes of an average race at Sepang.
Hamilton, who leads this year’s drivers’ championship by 28 points, had a forgettable race in Malaysia last year, suffering engine failure when leading from pole position. – Reuters.