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Sepang CEO wouldn’t want to host Malaysia F1 race even on free deal

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The CEO of the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia has said he would not be interested in hosting Formula 1 again even if offered a free hosting deal.

After debuting in 1999, this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix will be the last for the foreseeable future after F1 officials announced back in April it had agreed to terminate the contract of the race one year early.

Falling attendance figures and growing costs led to the race promoters pushing to ditch F1, with Sepang CEO Razlan Razali making his frustration clear in an interview with Reuters.

“Even if we got the greatest of deals – do it for free for example – what’s the product?” Razali said.

“I myself am not able to sit in front of the television and watch from Lap 1 until whatever lap for two hours. It’s hard to sell this kind of event and to get bums on the seat.

“It’s not worth the investment at the moment.”

Razali said that F1’s new owner, Liberty Media, did “not work hard enough” to change the organizers’ minds about the race, with no changes to the sport’s on-track product being clear.

“What they have done off-track, it’s great. but what triggers for someone to buy tickets to come to the circuit?” Razali said.

“It’s the product, the sport, not because of the activation they have done.”

The final Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2am ET on Sunday.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.