Petronas denies possibility of a Malaysian Grand Prix return

Petronas denies possibility of a Malaysian Grand Prix return

Petronas denied possibility of a Malaysian Grand Prix return to the F1 calendar following rumors that a 2026 comeback is in the works.

According to sources, Malaysia state-owned oil giant Petronas, which sponsors Mercedes had expressed interest in restoring the Malaysian GP to the Formula 1 calendar for 2026. However, the oil company has refuted the claims in a statement.

Petronas and the Sepang International Circuit signed a title naming deal last year and according to a Reuters report, the former is attempting to bring back the track to the Formula 1 calendar after it was dropped in 2017 as a result of increased hosting expenses and declining ticket sales.

According to Reuters, Petronas company president and CEO Tengku Muhammad Taufik Tengku Aziz discussed intentions to launch a campaign to bring Formula 1 back to Malaysia on Tuesday at a townhall meeting.

The reports of the Malaysian Grand Prix returning coincide with news that Petronas has been granted the naming rights to the Sepang International Circuit for the next three years. However, the sources that came forward asked not to be revealed because they had no authority to speak with the media.

Petronas has established a huge presence in Formula 1 due to their long-standing partnership with the eight-time Constructors’ champion Mercedes. But the company has made an effort to quickly squash the rumour in a statement that was made public.

“PETRONAS refers to the news reports published on 31 January 2024 on the potential return of the Formula One Grand Prix to Sepang, Malaysia, in 2026,” the company stated.

“We would like to confirm that there have been no discussions on bringing the sport back to the PETRONAS Sepang International Circuit.”

This comes after Malaysia’s Sports Minister, Hannah Yeoh, stated last year that although the country’s rising costs would make hosting an F1 race impractical, they would do it if they afforded it.

“If we could host an F1 race, we already would have done it,” Yeoh said. “But for now, we can’t afford to have races.”

Back when the Malaysian GP was on the calendar, it saw a wide range of race settings. From the race being dominated by Renault in 2006 to the sudden rainstorms that would cause torrential downpours to pop up out of nowhere, as Jenson Button was declared the winner after 31 laps in 2009 when the race was called off due to bad weather.

Since the last Formula 1 race at the Sepang International Circuit, the track has maintained its FIA Grade 1 classification and hosted races for a number of different racing series, including MotoGP.

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