Why Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia, must return to F1
Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
In an age when most new Formula One tracks might as well also be on the Formula E calendar, it seems to a lot of people that the space and void left by the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai will leave, is one that must be filled by a circuit of equal quality and characteristics. Ladies and gentlemen, that circuit is none other than the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
With the Chinese Grand Prix cancelled for 2023, many people in the Formula One community are calling for the return of a beloved racing circuit, which held its last F1 race back in 2017, seeing Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s first proper battle and becoming a historic race.
However, as I have previously stated in an article titled: “F1’s Calendar Problem” - a lot of the newer tracks being added to the calendar are, in fact, street circuits.
Now, the frustration stems from the fact that we have a number of circuits across the world that make a strong case for a place on the calendar today. Let’s list down some examples: Sepang - Malaysia, Mugello - Italy, Portimão - Portugal, Nurburgring - Germany, Hockenheim - Germany, and Kyalami - South Africa. These are just a few of the circuits being mentioned.
However, the reason I personally believe Malaysia, Sepang, deserves to be on the calendar slightly more than those others, is for its rich history in classic races and overall being more likely to produce a memorable race.
In 2017, Verstappen and Hamilton battled it out for the Grand Prix victory, and Verstappen managed to take a second career victory, on his birthday as well.
In 2016, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo battled away, causing Red Bull Racing a few headaches, and when an opportunity for a repeat of 2013’s “Multi-21” incident came about, this time the Red Bull teammates behaved themselves, and secured a historic 1-2 finish.
Of course, who could forget the devastation of Lewis Hamilton’s DNF from the race with an engine failure? This ultimately played a huge part in Hamilton losing the 2016 F1 World Championship to Nico Rosberg.
In 2015, another classic race saw Sebastian Vettel’s first ever victory with his childhood favourite team, Scuderia Ferrari.
In 2014, perhaps this is the first in a long list, to not be quite as memorable. However, the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton battled it out once again.
In 2013, the infamous incident at Red Bull between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel’s “Multi-21” occurred, arguably changing Red Bull’s DNA and management forever.
There, I have just recalled the last five incredible races at Sepang. So, to the reader, I pose a question to you: can you actually remember a major event from each of the last five races at Catalunya, Spain? That is a track which I don’t think really deserves to be on the calendar anymore, given the difficulty to overtake there, even on a smaller piece of machinery, as the MotoGP riders will tell you.
Especially with the modern era, and the 2023 cars being designed to be able to follow other cars more efficiently, it doesn’t seem such a bad idea to return to this iconic, beloved and historic track.
Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia first hosted an F1 race back in 1999 and stopped hosting F1 races in 2017. However, it still hosts a round of the MotoGP Championship, and is very much capable of hosting major racing events.
But what do you think? Should Sepang make a return to Formula 1?
Let us know in the comments down below!
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