Malaysian washout was 09’s dearest race

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The late start meant the Malaysian Grand Prix couldn't be resumed

The organisers of the Malaysian Grand Prix paid the highest fee going to hold an F1 race in 2009 – but they only got half a race for it.

The Sepang circuit’s race cost them $45.7m (28.56m / ??31.75m) to host this year. But the Grand Prix was abandoned after 31 of the scheduled 56 laps and half-points were awarded.

This was because the late start time imposed on the race organisers meant they were unable to complete the Grand Prix after it was interrupted by heavy rain.

The latest addition to the calendar – Abu Dhabi – was the next dearest, paying $45m for its Grand Prix. Singapore’s was the third most expensive, paying $44m.

At the other end of the scale Monaco paid nothing for its race and the Italian Grand Prix organisers paid $4.7m. The average fee for hosting a race was $28m.

The costs of the individual races are laid out in the latest edition of F1 business data analysis Formula Money. The report costs 175 and is available from

To put the figures into perspective, a two-day seat at Sepang for the Grand Prix weekend costs between 500 and 2,600 Ringgit ($145 – $758).

As Bernie Ecclestone typically increases his prices by 7-10% per year, and the Malaysian Grand Prix is contracted until at least 2015, FOA stand to earn a lot more money from the race over the next six seasons. Hopefully they’ll get a full race for their money in 2010.

2009 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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47 comments on “Malaysian washout was 09’s dearest race”

  1. I don’t get the point why take money from a circuit where people are not too interested in F1.FOA should take more money from Monaco & Italy,where there are always crowds.
    With Bernie building boring circuits with Herman & taking off good money for no reason one day there will be a state where we will loose circuit organizer from F1 other teams.

    1. They obviously have the money to spend, you just have to look at the Silverstone fiasco to see what happens when circuit owners reach the limit of their budget.

      1. You mean the Donington fiasco, I hope?

        1. Same difference, it all started because Silverstone have no money

  2. so much for cost cutting bernie, you wnat everbody to change but you will always be the last to cut into your own wallet!

    where does it all go anyway?

    malaysia is almost the proposed budget cap, for 30 min of racing…. almost 1 million a minute, makes me question how much sence f1 makes

    1. where does it all go anyway?

      Three letters… CVC… Capital Venture Cockroaches

      1. Three letters… CVC…

        CVC is just taking the money back they paid to one man (or two)…

        Bernie Ecclestone.

  3. sometimes i wonder how there are still races on the calendar. when promoters and organisers can stand to lose millions just because bernie charges too much. wasn’t there a headline on this site about a certain circuit(s) losing huge sums of money…(australia maybe?)

  4. Lucky I opted to go watch Oasis in Singapore during the Sepang race weekend!

    What a waste it would have been if I’d gone. The only plus to take away from the Sepang GP this was that all the spectators got to watch Jamiroquoi for free after the race.

    1. why you always be so negative to your own country?

    2. Any appropriate Jamiroquai song titles for the washout? “Travelling without moving”?

      1. “Virtual Insanity”?

        Beswrorty – I’m not being negative to my country, I love it, just hate the politics. I love going to Sepang, it was a tough toss up between F1 and Oasis, both of which I love! What I meant to say was, lucky I didnt go for the race, cause it would have be a waste of money!!

        1. ‘I’m not being negative to my country’….i’ve read a lot of comments from you being negative about malaysia…you hate a lot of things from alex yoong to lotusf1…

  5. But the good thing is that the Malaysian GP tickets are one of the cheapest…

    the cheapest Malaysian tickets are nearly half of what I paid for Singapore GP in 2009.

  6. Does anyone know if the Malaysian race has been moved back to its ‘proper’ time next year? I know we here in Melbourne are stuck the stupid ‘twit-light’ race again, despite everyone – including the drivers – condemnation of it.

    1. The Malaysian GP will start at 4pm (Malaysian time) according to the F1 website, which is the same as last year I believe?

      1. I think it’s an hour earlier than last year. Still not ideal if the rain comes or theres an incident though.

  7. The costs of the individual races are laid out in the latest edition of F1 business data analysis Formula Money. The report costs £175 and is available from

    Business model for F1 circuits is one of my biggest mysteries.

    There is no any way, Keith, to make clear the figures for a GP?

    I’ve made some exercise to put together some figures for Silverstone, but I’m afraid my estimations where purely speculation for Revenues and costs:


    Entrance fees
    Other : Merchandising, food&drinks, Parking… revenues

    1. Sorry, wrong doing….


      Entrance Fees
      Other Revenue (Merchandising, Food&Drinks, Parking…)
      Race Sponsors


      FOM Fee
      Depreciation (Track investment)
      GP Expenses: (Security, Staffing, Race infrastructure, supplies…)
      G&A Expenses

      Keith, if you have access to Formula One money information, wouldn’t be great if you could give us some light about how is the business model for a F1 GP?

      I remember, you made an article talking about F1 value chain and who were the main agents of this value chain. It will be great if we were able to see the figures (revenues and costs) of that value chain. It will give all of us the biggest picture of what are the main issues when talking about Budgets caps, and the main problems of F1 current business model.

      Just a suggestion… :-)

      1. I remember, you made an article talking about F1 value chain and who were the main agents of this value chain. It will be great if we were able to see the figures (revenues and costs) of that value chain. It will give all of us the biggest picture of what are the main issues when talking about Budgets caps, and the main problems of F1 current business model.

        I agree it would be fascinating. Here’s the article you’re referring to:

        Some of the revenues and costs involved we could make educated guesses at – for example the money the circuits make from ticket sales (look at the capacity offered and the ticket costs and multiply) and things like security arrangements.

        Silverstone’s financial statement for 2008 showed a profit of £662,000 from revenue of £38.2m:

  8. I had no idea the fees varied quite that much. That’s a HUGE difference!

  9. I think to be fair if every track paid the same ammount to host a F1 race bernie will get more money and the tracks wont have to pay as much if they pay all the same. Even monaco who paid nothing in 2009?

  10. Well, it’s a complete joke isn’t it?

    First of all, moving the times: it’s supposed to be friendly to European auidences but it’s still 6 in the morning which makes little difference to the kind of fan that would wake up or stay up at 2, and there’s always a re-run in the afternoon for those who won’t. All it does is create the potential for farces like this year’s to happen.

    The cost issue is an even bigger joke. Monaco is rich but pays nothing, yet other tracks are hit by ridiculous escalators that funds the debt created to by the rights in the first place! When do they expect to pay it off, and will the costs come down after? Like fun they will. I hate that every know-everything know-nothing journalist has this excuse for panning all of F1 like the sport itself is to blame, when in fact it’s being ruined by this scam.

    I really hope FOTA have something up their sleeves for 2012 to end this stranglehold on F1, to cut costs for circuits and the fans whilst making a decent living for themselves. F1 has been greatly improved by Bernie, but now he’s going much too far, so whilst we should be grateful, it’s time to say goodbye.

  11. Circuits should get a 10k discount for every on-track pass! :)

  12. Wow..I didnt know that it was the most costly of all. The promoter even sold student prices tickets to some part of the track(I bought them). Malaysian loves formula one but most of them who attended the race, gets their tickets by sponsors or others.Just look at the diamond grandstand seats(cost about RM2,000), filled with school students sponsored by Petronas. So I’m not sure for how long the promoter are willing to pay this kind of money to Bernie.

  13. Ok I think the prices are mad but F1 is a tough business and if you can’t cut it then that’s that. I believe in a free market.
    The costs have gone up and are likely to stay that way for a new race.
    What I find interesting is that a lot of people said in the Silverstone row that it should get a good deal and that historic tracks should be cheaper. Well Italy and Monaco are and maybe a few others and now there are still complaints.
    New tracks are a gamble so cost more, maybe it is a joke just how much can be bled out of them but I can’t say I’m surprised. I am pleased though at one thing; despite the massive costs there are still many venues who want f1 :)

    1. I think it’s rather the scale of the disparity than its existence, but it’s a good point nonetheless. We can be massive hypocrites sometimes.

      Ah, but it isn’t a free market is it? Bernie has a monopoly over who gets to be on the calendar, and can charge what he likes. A free market would be other guys offering less to put the race on the calendar, or for a rival series of similar prestige. Of course, neither set of alternatives exists!

      1. Good point Icthyes, it’s a monopoly or rather an auction. Highest bidder wins.

      2. Good point but old tracks know are established and know what they’re doing etc but new tracks need to show they can have it so invest more to show they have more on the line. It’s ridiculous prices I agree which have been determined by the CVC and context of recent years but it gets the job done. If they can’t afford they can’t have the race. It’s tough and I do have a lot of sympathy for the countries paying out loads (especially in comparison to other tracks) but it’s F1 so it shouldn’t be easy.
        Another good point about Bernie having a monopology over venues. I’ve never been much of a fan of Bernie myself but he’s done a lot for the sport and I do think there are plus points to this system. So if there has to be one man in charge it’s Bernie. The venues will always have to anmswer to someone; they want something so they can’t just name their demands and take it. It’s a business contract and frankly I’m glad we have Bernie on our side.
        So I jus think the system is a bit extreme but it has some good points and I personally am not bright enough to think of a way to make it better/more fair on venues.

        1. He’s not on ‘our side’, he’s on CVC’s. The fan’s side would be a very different set of tracks then some of the borefests but cash cows that Bernie sticks on.

          It is a shame that the rights holder gets to set tracks rather than the teams, and then have the rights holder negotiate fees.

  14. At the other end of the scale Monaco paid nothing for its race

    Excuse me?, really?.

    Thats madness!, who signed that contract.

    1. Find someone who doesn’t know F1, or even motor racing at all, and get them to name a famous race. They’ll probably come up with the Monaco Grand Prix, or at least “the one where they go past the yachts”.

      Monaco is to race tracks what Ferrari is to the teams. It’s one of the most recognisable things in F1. They can name their price.

      1. Yeah I know but Monaco also get advertising revenue for the race and for Formula 2 (Rallying), its like Bernie doesn’t make a penny from it..

        which is shocking.

  15. HounslowBusGarage
    29th December 2009, 13:31

    Malaysia 2009 was a complete cock-up.
    And at about $1.5 million for each lap completed, a very expensive cock-up. I’m sure Bernie will have learnt some kind of lesson from it, but maybe not quite the less we all expect him to learn, which is ‘Listen to the Local Advisers’.
    Apart from that, Malaysia 2009 was one of the most memorable races. Who could forget ‘Felipe Baby’ or ‘Ice Cream’ or even Flavio sadly shaking his head as Piquet goes off backwards again?

    1. agree with that.

  16. In regards to Monaco, that is the one venue that F1 simply cannot do without, for pretty much everyone involved. As a result, Prince Albert and company can pretty much stand up to Bernie and speak their mind on whatever they want to. A key example is trackside adverts, which I am surprised none of you have mentioned yet…..

    Watch Monaco, and you are bound to see many different trackside billboards from what you see at most other Grands Prix. The reason is because under normal contracts, FOM has all rights to trackside advertising at Grands Prix. But Monaco demands different, and can afford to do so…hence, you see billboards like that Martini model that was distracting drivers going into the tunnel last year :) Another difference is TV feed- Monaco is one of only two races (Japan being the other) where Bernie’s FOM TV company doesn’t produce the race- that’s why sometimes you see better camera shots during accidents and wrecks than what the normal FOM feed leaves out and then saves for the season-ending DVD.

    You see, even Bernie has a weak spot. But Monaco is pretty much the only race that can stand up to him in such a fashion……

  17. I was there…Many people were not happy after the race was over…

  18. Interesting, because I was just watching this years Singapore GP again and the BBC’s pundits said it costs them £50m to put on this event. I’d really like to buy the FormulaMoney book but the price is way to steep for me. Perhaps I’ll ask my local library to get it in 0:)…

    1. On another perhaps amusing note, I was just reading Joe Saward’s blog and couldn’t help myself in trying to guess some of the drivers nick names…

  19. I really wish Bernie would cut a deal with Indianapolis Motor Speedway for an US Grand Prix. As long as he continues to ask insanely high prices, there is no chance of a US GP there. IMS is owned by one family and there is NO chance that the American government will give money to cover the cost of an F1 race happening anywhere. IMS is where the race belongs and it already has the facilities built. It’s just a shame Bernie demands a deal from a track that basically forces the track to lose money on the race.

    1. There won’t be a USGP until Bernie is gone. Considering a sanction fee for Nascar is about $1 Million (with national exposure) compared to around $10 Million (to show to a absurdly loyal, but niche audience) for an F1 race, I wonder what race a promoter would choose? The only bright side for F1 is if the IndyCar series collapses. I have a feeling Bernie would charge little (if any) amount to host the Indianapolis 500.

    2. I would really like to see the USGP at Indy, but the odds of it happeneing are pretty much zero. The reason is that the officials at IMS who were behind the F1 deals are no longer working with the place. This includes not just Tony George, but former CEO Joie Citwood, who was key in dealing with Bernie and company.

      1. That’s true and the new leader of IMS is all about making the Speedway profitable. There is absolutely no chance of the speedway signing a contract that doesn’t make financial returns. There is a very slim chance that Bernie will drop his asking price. So, we’re left with a stalemate. Sad to say, but I’d rather not even have a USGP if it’s going to be some stupid hastily designed street track!

  20. IMS an CVC are locked in a 22 plus million dollar law suit…you will never be GP of USA until this is over

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      30th December 2009, 10:39

      That sounds interesting, dj. Can you give us some details? I assume it relates to the last GP – non-payment? Or is it something to do with 2005?

    2. Same here- any details you can provide would be much appreciated. I haven'[t heard a word about this until now, so please pass along what you can.

      Even without the lawsuit, the days of F1 at IMS are long over…..

  21. Mike "the bike" Schumacher
    31st December 2009, 0:51

    Eccelstone and Max managed somehow to reduce costs for teams enough to see 4 new teams next year and the return of sauber. So why can’t they reduce the costs for the circuts.

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