MALAYSIA’s love affair with Formula One set to continue into 14th year

Published on February 15th, 2012

With 14th February synonymous with Valentine’s Day, what better way to proclaim our love for the PETRONAS Formula One Malaysia Grand Prix than to celebrate the 14th edition of the ‘hottest’ race in the world on the 23rd to 25th March.

In conjunction with the official launch on the official launch today, Sepang International Circuit (SIC) – promoter and organizer of the 2012 Formula 1™ PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix – kicked off a month long celebration of love for Malaysia’s most exciting international racing event; leading up to the Race Day on the 25th of March.

Speaking at the official launch at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, SIC Chairman, Dato’ Mokhzani Tun Dr Mahathir said that the circuit would be working hard to make the 14th edition of the Formula 1™ PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix the best ever since year one.

“Sepang International Circuit has a lot to offer to all motorsports enthusiast especially F1 fans and family, where the tickets are the most affordable in the world, the friendliest circuit and the best of Malaysian hospitality,” said Mokhzani.

F1 has been an engine of growth in our country with Malaysia reaping numerous benefits from its involvement in F1.

“Based on an independent study, the preliminary results indicated that the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix generated total economic activity of approximately RM 200 million.

“These studies shows that the average spending of a foreign visitor is approximately RM7,000 while that of a domestic visitor is RM 2,500.

“This is part of the spill-over effect of F1 in generating tourism dollars with many racing fans who come over to Malaysia for the sole purpose of watching the race most likely extending their stay to visit other fascinating attractions our country has to offer.

“Thus we can say with utmost certainty that F1 is the biggest draw in Malaysia and not to mention Malaysia is now seen and heard in as many 187 countries with a combined audience of more than 500 million and this is all thanks to F1 which is undoubtedly the most effective platform for international mileage and worldwide recognition.

“This again translates to at least a few hundred millions of Ringgit in live TV, media and PR exposure. Formula Money reported in 2010 that PETRONAS and Malaysian Grand Prix were mentioned in 28 print media articles per USD million invested with the Malaysian Grand Prix were ranked first in this print media exposure investment compared to the other sponsors and race,” said Minister of Youth and Sports, Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek in his welcoming address during the official launch of the Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix today.

“Aside from the race, there are also many exciting events in conjunction with the celebration of F1 month in Kuala Lumpur such as shopping and dining experience, public and exclusive events, parties and also a chance to catch your favourite teams and drivers in the heart of the city.

In conjunction with the F1 race, Tourism Malaysia would be having again a month-long GP Sale where the whole of Malaysia would be on sale; offering fans a nationwide sales carnival with fashionable bargains and discounts; and sizzling hot deals and unbeatable offers.

“Among the exciting events that we have in store for the fans are the 4th Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (15-18 March) and the biggest ever music festival to hit Malaysia, the future music festival Asia which hosts the largest gathering of artists, with over 40 acts set to bring the house down on 17th March.

Another special event that has been lined up is the Red Ribbon GP Gala 2012. SIC together with sponsors like Tourism Malaysia, are working with the Global Poverty Project supported by the Gates Foundation and the Malaysian AIDS Foundation with a mission to eradicate world poverty.

Six international celebrities such as Owen Wilson, Camilla Belle and Paul Walker will be present at the Gala and on race day at the Premium Plus Corporate Suites. Part of the proceeds from the Gala and Corporate Suites will go to the Global Poverty Project and Malaysian AIDS Foundation.

“Not forgetting, there will be exclusive starting grid passes, pit garage tours, safety car rides; and pit walkabout passes on offer that fans can get their hands on through our website, sepangcircuit.com ,” he added.

PETRONAS, title sponsor of the ‘hottest’ race since 1999, has also lined up a host of promotional activities not only to draw spectators to the circuit but also to continue enhancing the public’s understanding and appreciation of this prestigious sport and the benefits it brings to the nation.

PETRONAS’ Group Corporate Affairs Division Senior General Manager, Dato Mohammad Medan Abdullah says: “PETRONAS’ involvement in Formula One is in two fronts: as the title sponsor of the PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix since the past 13 years, as well as a title partner to the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team.

“As we prepare for the 14th edition of the Grand Prix, we are embarking on a series of activities to build up the excitement for the race. These, among others, include the week-long 2012 PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix showcase at Suria KLCC and the annual MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team programme to bring the sport closer to the fans and all Malaysians,” adds Medan.

Recording an attendance of 105,000 spectators for 3 days last year, Mokhzani was hopeful to woo in some 90,000 fans on Race Day this time around due to the unprecedented presence of 6 world champions on the grid.

“I am hoping that more fans will come on Race Day this time around as we will have 6 world champions doing battle for the first the time in Malaysia.

“With the return of 2007 champion, Kimi Raikkonen, this year the PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix is expected to be a mouth-watering affair as he will be joined on the grid by current champion, Sebastian Vettel and former winners, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher,” added Mokhzani.

Nicknamed the ‘Iceman’, Raikkonen will be making a comeback with the Lotus F1 Team after a 2 year hiatus competing in the World Rally Championship.

With the season due to start in Australia, the attention will shift to Malaysia a week later where the drivers will attempt to continue on their mission to challenge the hegemony of German driver, Sebastian Vettel who has been ruling F1 for the past 2 years.

At only 24, Vettel will be gunning to become the youngest hat-trick champion of F1 but he won’t be given an easy ride as all the drivers will be baying for blood in a bid to halt the winning run of the precocious German.

In addition to all the excitement, the PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix will also be a special occasion for Malaysia as SIC welcomes back the participation of 3 Malaysian teams on the grid.

MERCEDES GP PETRONAS, Lotus Renault GP and Team Lotus all produced admirable performances at the Sepang round last year.

Their impressive performances brought cheers from the 105,000 fans who turned out during race weekend and we can expect a similar turnout this year, given that these 3 teams will return in 2012 as the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team, Lotus F1 Team and Caterham F1 Team.

With Sepang being the second leg of the 20 round calendar, fans can expected competing teams and drivers coming to Sepang better prepared; having shaken off their opening race jittery in Melbourne and getting used to the capabilities of their machines.

Unlike the tight street circuit in Melbourne, fans can expect to see the cars and drivers pushing to their maximum capacity and to the limit as the drivers take full advantage of the smooth ultra-modern race track; and braving passing maneuvers with the wide track and spacious run-off areas.

“It’s definitely an event that no Malaysian racing fan should miss. And, in making the event assessable to all, we have lowered the ticket prices to as low as RM60 for the whole race weekend. You would not get any better deal at any other F1 circuits in the world,” added Mokhzani.

Apart from catching the world’s best drivers in action at the race, Malaysian fans can also catch the opportunity to witness the best of Malaysian drivers in action against top drivers in the region in the support race, Malaysian Super Series.

For only the second time in the 14-year history of Malaysia’s F1, the MSS has been included as the support race; Sports Production and Touring Production category as its opening round for the 2012 season.

The MSS has grown in leaps and bounds and the inclusion of the MSS is a testament of the growing importance of Malaysia’s own national track championships.

Fans are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets early because seat selection will not be allowed during the ticket purchase process on 23rd to 25th March 2012 race days in the interest of serving the larger crowd of patrons present at the circuit grounds.

Sales of tickets have been going strong since the Early Bird promo offering tickets for 50% off which ended on the 31st of December. A special discount of 25% is applicable for all Maybank account holders and card holders until 15th March.

Tickets are available through SIC ticket counters at KL Sentral and circuit grounds, through SIC ticket hotline 03-8778 2222 or go to www.sepangcircuit.com, www.AirAsia Redtix.com and AirAsiaRedtix outlets.

words & pix: SIC

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