SEPANG: The Petronas Malaysian F1 Grand Prix, which will be held at the Sepang F1 Circuit from March 21-23, will not be just all about Michael Schumacher and company.
For the first time ever, the F1 race will be complemented by three supporting events – the Formula BMW Asia, Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Formula Malaysia.
The Sepang International Circuit (SIC) press officer, Azhar Ghazali, said yesterday that the inclusion of the three events had received approval from the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
Of the three supporting races, the inaugural BMW Asia and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia are international events and organised by Malaysian-based Motorsports Asia as part of the Asian Festival of Speed (AFOS).
In the Formula Malaysia competition, competitors race in a single-seat 1300cc Formula Hayabusa Suzuki machine. The event is organised by SIC for local drivers.
“The three supporting races have been included in the FIA race calendar for the Malaysian GP,” said Azhar.
“We will have not just one but three supporting races this time. This is generally good for Malaysian motor-sports. With all these additional events, I believe there will be much more excitement throughout the whole weekend for the fans.
“It will be better value for money for everyone attending the F1 race.”
There was only one support race last year – the Formula Malaysia.
Azhar added that approval from the FIA to organise the supporting races was required because the 5.543km long circuit will be taken over by the international body from next week.
The organisers of the supporting races will have to pay a license fee to Formula One Management (FOM), the marketing body for FIA.
The Formula BMW Asia, which comprise two races for each leg, is expected to feature a line-up of drivers from the region, including China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Malaysia.
It will be the first time that the Formula BMW race is held in Asia and it takes after the successful German Formula BMW Championships, which was first introduced in Europe last year.
Similar to Formula Three cars, the inaugural German Formula BMW Championships last year were won by Nico Rosberg, who is the son of 1982 F1 world champion Keke Rosberg. The 17-year-old Nico became the youngest driver to test a F1 car last year.
Among the top drivers expected on the grid for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is three-time Asian Touring Car champion Charles Kwan of Hong Kong. The Malaysian entries include the 12-hour Merdeka Endurance Race winning team of Tommy Lee, Tunku Hammam and Nigel Albon.