So, unfortunately, this year there will be no Malaysian Grand Prix in the Formula One calendar for the first time since 1999 as it has hosted 19 races through last year. In Fact, it hosted the first ever Malaysian Grand Prix back in 1962 but in what is now called Singapore. Honestly, It is hard to accept the absence of such a historic event. Fans loved it for many reasons and the memories are still vivid to recall. We have all experienced them together. It was at one time the most anticipated new Asian circuit. "This is the final Grand Prix. We are taking a break," said the circuit's CEO Razlan Razali.
Last April it was the time the Malaysian government announced the withdrawal of its major support to hold the famous annual tropical race regarding some financial high costs as it had already reported earlier. It was reported that only £50million was the cost to win the rights regarding the Malaysians media but unfortunately, the government has failed to pay the expenses of the race. However, another reason to recall, the Singaporean glamour night street track has won the fans' attention. Note that, both countries used to be united as one country before they broke up back in 1965. The separation was the result of deep political and economic differences between the ruling parties of Singapore and Malaysia. Anyhow, It is not that far a distance to attend the Singapore Grand Prix, the world's first F1 night race only a few hours drive (The distance between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is 316 kilometers) as the two countries are connected by a causeway.
Sepang International Circuit (SIC) was designed by the genius engineer, Hermann Tilke, he did the same for the German circuits Hockenheimring and Nurburgring as well as the Singaporean Marina Bay Street Circuit. It was reported last year that the race organizers and F1’s new commercial owner Liberty Media agreed jointly that Malaysia is allowed to end its contract one year early for cost reasons and the event’s dwindling interest.
With some (unwanted to be heard) negative comments here, "shabby", "a bit tired" and "an old house that needs a bit of redecorating from the lack of care". All these words were described by the former F1 President, Bernie Ecclestone through the French press in 2007. It was obvious that Malaysia was under intimidation since that time to lose the right of hosting F1, but would not the Malaysian government do something about that?
On the other hand, the Malaysian Oil and Gas company, Petronas, which is owned by the government has been hosting and supporting the prestigious event in Malaysia since it was first held in 1999 and will continue to sponsor Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team despite the demise of the local race as this was reported in Bernama, the Malaysian news agency.
It is a terribly disheartening farewell to see Asia's second-oldest Grand Prix after the Japanese leaving the calendar, but we have been blessed with so many beautiful memories starting back in Michael Schumacher's era. MotorLat decided to flashback with some unforgettable and memorable moments.
1- The First Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999:
It was the fifteenth race of the 1999 Formula One season. The inaugural Grand Prix at Sepang was certainly an epic race to remember. However, It was the coming back of the prancing horse racer Michael Schumacher (two championship winner at that moment) after his absence of 6 races due to a broken leg sustained at that year's British Grand Prix. The German broke his right leg in a crash at the high-speed Stowe Corner when his car's rear brakes failed. So here is what actually happened...
The man who had just returned from a severe injury had a wonderful weekend and made a magnificent start from pole position to lead his teammate, but Schumacher has done something historical that Eddie Irvine will never forget for the rest of his life, he helped his teammate by slowing down and dropped one position behind the Irishman as he began struggling with pace. Finally, Irvine won his first ever Malaysian Grand Prix and fourth race of the season by heading another Ferrari one-two, ahead of the Flying Finn, Mika Häkkinen driving the McLaren. Surprisingly and shockingly, both Ferrari's were later to be disqualified as it was discovered their car's bargeboards did not comply with Formula One's technical regulations. However, the team later appealed this decision to the FIA and after 5 days it was announced that the court of appeal had overturned the ruling. It was a race with mixed feelings and emotions for Ferrari as a team. Schumacher had shown how competitive and determined he was by returning from an injury that only a few expected to see him recover enough for racing again that season. He ruled the race as a king and as a man with a high-sportsmanship backing up his teammate. Mika Häkkinen placed third but would go on to win the 1999 world championship.
during the podium celebrations with the former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad
2- Two Birds One Stone:
The 2003 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix has awarded two different drivers as their "First" race winner and pole position in that weekend. It was the maiden Formula One Grand Prix victory for the MP4-17 McLaren-Mercedes driver, Kimi Räikkönen. The other driver who has tasted the flavor of dominating the first pole position start was the Spaniard Fernando Alonso as well scoring his first podium coming home third.
3- McLaren's first one-two finish:
Since the 2005 Brazilian Grand Prix, the 2007 Malaysian Grand Prix marked McLaren's first one-two finish and the first victory for the team in that year. As the contract of Fernando Alonso with Renault was set to expire on 2006, The Spaniard has announced that he's moving to McLaren for 2007, and that is exactly what happened. His Brit teammate, Lewis Hamilton was chosen as his partner for the season. A one-two led home by the double world champion, Alonso securing his first ever win for McLaren, and the team's first since 2005. However, Hamilton finished second.
4- Team Order Controversy :
The 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix was marked by the most controversial team orders creating a tempest as it was issued by the RedBull and Mercedes team. For the Red Bulls, Vettel and Webber went closely wheel to wheel several times where the German passed his Aussie teammate for the lead. Sebastian Vettel ignoring team orders to snatch victory from teammate Mark Webber with the infamous "Multi-21". It was an aggressive and impetuous battle between the rival-teammates. On the other hand, Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton retained third place in front of his German teammate, Nico Rosberg following on orders from team principal Ross Brawn. It was such a dramatic race!
5- Felipe Massa's famous Team Radio:
Who does not remember that funny and amusing team radio from the Ferrari team when Rob Smedley, Massa's race engineer replied to the Brazilian “Felipe baby, stay cool – we’re bringing you the white visor” as Felipe asked a white visor, it is still a fan favorite until today. The 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix was red flagged due to a waterlogged track caused by a heavy rain condition or what is called a monsoon, a seasonal prevailing wind in the region of south and southeast Asia, blowing from the southwest between May and September to bring rain.
6- Farwell Sepang with Verstappen:
The young Dutch boy, Max Verstappen has dominated the Final Malaysian GP in 2017 as he passed pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton into turn 1 on lap 4 at Sepang from where he controlled the race to take his first victory of the Formula 1 season and second in his career. Red Bull's Max Verstappen treated himself a perfect 20th birthday present by winning the last Malaysian Grand Prix on that Sunday.