Published on Thursday, April 26, 2007

"Shabby" Sepang GP circuit to be improved

KUALA LUMPUR: Formula One Grand supremo Bernie Ecclestone has called Malaysia’s Sepang race circuit “shabby” and in need of a clean-up – a statement designed to increase the pressure on Malaysia to keep its spot on the Grand Prix calendar.

Malaysia is aware that neighbour Singapore is revving up to deliver Formula One’s s first night time street circuit.

Respected auto racing magazines say that Ecclestone’s tactic of running down a circuit is one that he has used before to either drop a race from the F1 calendar or strike a better deal with the organisers.

According to reports, organisers of the Malaysia Grand Prix have been offered a new deal that will keep Sepang on the Formula One calendar until 2015, although the offer is believed to come with conditions attached.

The current Malaysian Grand Prix agreement with Ecclestone lasts until 2010.

Sepang circuit chairman Mokhzani Mahathir said that there were plans for a major upgrade of Sepang, including an automotive-related theme park.

However, it seems more than likely that Singapore will join the F1 circus, although whether that will be at the expense of Malaysia, or as a new race towards the end of the F1 season remains to be seen.

Ecclestone this week confirmed that he has assumed the role of promoter at the Istanbul Park Circuit, and that Turkey retains its F1 race until 2021.

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