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Malaysia Formula 1 race scrapped for 2018 after 19 years

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Malaysia will play host to its final Formula 1 race in October after a mutual agreement was struck between officials at the Sepang International Circuit and the sport’s chiefs to scrap the race for 2018.

Malaysia first joined the F1 calendar back in 1999, signalling the start of the sport’s focused expansion into Asia, and featured in the early part of the year between 2001 and 2015.

The race shifted to a fall date for 2016 in a bid to ease falling attendance figures, but officials at Sepang said they were unsure about extending the F1 contract beyond its expiration in 2018.

A decision has now been taken to end the deal with one year remaining as F1 issued a statement on Friday confirming that the 2017 race in Malaysia would be the last.

“It’s always sad to say goodbye to a member of the Formula 1 family. Over nearly two decades, the Malaysian Formula 1 fans have proven themselves to be some of the sport’s most passionate supporters,” F1’s recently-apointed commercial boss Sean Bratches said.

“As we said in Melbourne, we have big plans for bringing our global fan base closer to the sport than ever before, providing an enhanced digital experience and creating new events. We’re looking forward to talking more about these plans as the season progresses.

“We will have 21 exciting events to look forward to in the 2018 calendar, with the additions of the French and German races. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Sepang International Circuit for their hospitality and professionalism over the years, and their ongoing commitment to motorsport.”

The news comes at a time when F1’s new owner, Liberty Media, is beginning to put plans in place for its future calendar, with an increased focus on the United States and city races expected.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”