Razali: Ecclestone ‘open to ideas’


Published: Wednesday 14th January 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has become more receptive over time when it comes to ideas as to how the sport should be improved.

That is the view of Razlan Razali, CEO of the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, who this week met with Ecclestone to discuss a contract extension for his country’s grand prix given this season’s race in March is the last of the present agreement.

Despite going into the meeting with concerns as to the current state of F1, Razali has revealed a new deal – likely to be for another five years through to 2020 – is due to be announced on Friday.

With only nine teams scheduled to be on the grid this campaign, given the demise of Marussia and with time running out on the search for a buyer of Caterham, grand prix promoters are likely to be nervously eyeing the F1 product given the millions of pounds it costs to stage.

Razali concedes he was of the same mind, particularly in light of the limitations upon circuit bosses outside of Europe for enhancing the show.

But Razali has confirmed holding a positive meeting with Ecclestone courtesy of the fact the 84-year-old was more willing to listen than had previously been the case.

“There was a lot of negativity surrounding F1 last year,” said Razali, speaking to Press Association Sport.

“So we have discussed with Mr Ecclestone on how to make it exciting as an event.

“Fortunately, this time around, Mr Ecclestone was very much open to a lot of ideas from us, compared to previous years when I have met him.

“I guess it was only a matter of time before he realised he had to do something.

“So there were a lot of ideas on fan engagement, fan activation, how to get the drivers closer to the fans, also a relaxation on certain areas of the circuit to bring in more activities.

“So it was a very positive meeting with him, and we’re happy. In the last six years of being in charge of the Sepang Circuit it was one of the best meetings we’ve had with him.”

In the past Razali has often annoyed Ecclestone by citing how MotoGP engages with its audience at a track compared to F1.

At this week’s meeting Razlan again held up MotoGP as an example to Ecclestone as to what should be achieved, and on this occasion he did not flinch too much.

“MotoGP give us the public area to manage and make it as exciting as possible for the fans,” added Razali.

“Formula One want to do everything, but you can’t charge in Malaysia what you do to Europe because of our low currency, so we told him to be flexible and to open up to this.

“We showed him photos of what we have done with MotoGP, and he agreed we need to do something.

“So he called in his people, and his lawyers were there to see if they could be a bit more flexible on the legal side of things.

“The point is he is allowing us to do what we want to do this year.”

Razali will now open up his track to manufacturers and car accessory companies to display their products, akin to an auto show, as opposed to it simply being about F1.

“We want spectators to browse and shop for these things rather than just going in for the race – a full-on carnival,” said Razali.

“Last year at MotoGP fans spent two hours in this area looking around and taking photos of the bikes and the girls promoting them, and this is what we need to do for F1.”

Razali is also looking at increased activity with the drivers ahead of a race, whilst he is eager for a greater spectacle on track in terms of support races given GP2 and GP3 only visit certain circuits.

“We need to identify and find ways to bridge the inaccessibility gap between the F1 drivers and the fans because they’re miles apart right now,” said Razlan.

“On track for us we have three great races with MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3, but in Malaysia we only have Formula One, with support races restricted to our national championship, which is not exciting.

“We need exciting support races like GP2 and GP3 which is appealing to fans, and Mr Ecclestone has offered us GP2, as well F2 and F3.

“It is something he is looking into.”

Published: Wednesday 14th January 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search