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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.

NBCSN will present ‘Race and Sports in America: Conversations’ Monday

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With motor racing reckoning with its own issues of diversity and equality, “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” will tackle the topics of social justice with several athletes. The show will air at 8 p.m. ET Monday, July 13 on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic channel and on regional sports networks.

The roundtable discussions will be hosted by Damon Hack and feature Charles Barkley, Steph Curry, Jimmy Rollins and Ozzie Smith in one segment. The other segment will include Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Lynn, Troy Mullins and James Blake.

Race has been a major topic in motorsports this year.

NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its race after lobbying by Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in the premier Cup Series. In Formula One, six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton has joined Black Lives Matter marches in London and also formed a panel on diversity. The lone Black driver in F1 also led 14 of 20 drivers taking a knee before the season opener in Austria.