Just over a dozen years after it was first opened by Mahathir, the Sepang International Circuit has been plagued by leaking roofs, rubbish and declining attendances.
Apparently, the grand roof needs to be replaced – after only a dozen years, purportedly its life span. (See AFP photo of leaking roof above paddock building here.) The circuit’s boss has admitted there were shortcuts during construction – completed in a “record time” of 14 months – and shoddy maintenance since then. Another pet project under the Mahathir administration that even clinched a Special Project Award at the Malaysian Construction Industry Excellence Awards 2001.
Check out these comments from an AFP report:
Sepang’s soaring roof, inspired by the hibiscus which is Malaysia’s national flower, need to be replaced as the grandstand canopy has exceeded its lifespan and cannot cope with Malaysia’s tropical downpours. (haha, my humble old family house, several decades old, can cope with tropical downpours!)
“When it rains, it leaks. People are not happy. The circuit was built in a record time but unfortunately there were shortcuts and poor maintainance,” (circuit boss Razlan Razali) said.
The sport’s ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone proclaimed Singapore as the “jewel in F1’s crown” when the city-state hosted its first night race in 2008.
But in crushing comments for Malaysia, he likened Sepang to “an old house that needs a bit of redecorating.”
“It’s starting to get a little shabby and looks a bit tired. There is rubbish all over the place and it?s not really a good sign for Malaysia,” Ecclestone said at the time.
From an AFP report in the Jakarta Globe:
“Unfortunately, after three to four years, the track was not very well-maintained,” said Razlan, the chief executive of Sepang International Circuit. “There are areas of the grandstand and the paddock where it leaks during a storm. We experience power trips and mechanical and electrical woes. We need a major overhaul and refurbishment.”
And that could cost RM180 million – to overhaul a circuit that cost US$120 million to build in 1998. Brilliant.
For a different view, read what WCT Berhad, the lead member of the JV responsible for Sepang, says on its website.
The Sepang F1 Circuit was voted the world’s ‘most challenging’ track by F1 drivers and has been rated as one of the world’s best. The Sepang F1 Circuit is a proud achievement by WCT Engineering Berhad, the lead member of the JV among WCT Engineering Berhad, Ahmad Zaki Resources Berhad and Murray & Roberts (M) Sdn Bhd. The state-of-the-art circuit was completed in a record time of 14 months and in recognition of its ultramodern facilities, it is the only circuit in the world allowed to incorporate the F1 logo on its official name.
The Sepang F1 Circuit, from aerial view, signifies a hibiscus, the national flower of Malaysia. The circuit was built in stadium-type concept, with the track recessed in the valley. The circuit has a double frontage grandstand overlooks the two longest straights, which hosts up to 100,000 spectators. This challenging race track is 5.542km with 16m width (up to 25m width at turn 15). There are 15 turns in total, and the longest straight is 927.543m at the start-finish line.
The nature and scope of works for this project involves :
– Earthworks (cut & fill 8,000,000m3, removal of unsuitable materials 600,000m3),
– Landscaping & erosion control (600 acres)
– Race Track (5.542km)
– Grand Stand (Main grandstand – 32,000 seats, natural grandstand – 80,000 to 100,000 seating capacity)
– Buildings (Pit buildings, Welcome centre, medical centre, media centre for 600 journalists, ancillary buildings)
– Concrete Padlock (91,000m2)
– Carpark (30,000 capacity)
– Services road (13.0km)
– Sewerage System (6.2km)
– Surface Drainage
In recognising this prominent achievement, CIDB, at the Malaysian Construction Industry Excellence Awards 2001, awarded WCTE and its joint venture partners the Special Project Award.
That’s not all. Attendances have been declining over the years, as reported in the earlier AFP report:
2006 – 140,000 over three days
2009 – 126,000
2010 – 97,000
So what do we do with this race track now? I say, cut losses and call it quits. After all, it’s not the most environmentally friendly sport around in this era of climate change and depleting oil reserves, is it.