PETALING JAYA: A record spectator turnout marked the eighth edition of the Petronas Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at the Sepang F1 Circuit on Sunday.
The 107,634 attendance, including 40% foreign tourists, surpassed last years figure of 106,422.
Sepang International Circuit (SIC), the race organisers have now taken Malaysian GP to a new level to promote motorsports and tourism.
F1 in Malaysia has always been more than just a race. We proved that this year, said SIC general manager Datuk Ahmad Mustafa.
The success was brought about by a combination of factors and the collaborations with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Tourism Malaysia and efforts of the new Federal Territories Minister Datuk Zulhasnan Rafique.
This year KL hosted various activities under the GP City programme leading up to the race including the KLGP Mega Sale Carnival, the F1 Passport, the Sights and Sound of KL, the Petronas Malaysian GP Spring Gala and BMW Heritage Car Demonstration.
All these events had been promoted internationally by Tourism Malaysia and City Hall to help pull in the foreign spectators and local fans.
We also had a huge turnout from Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
We were not able to reach the 120,000 target but we are satisfied.
F1 supremo Bernie Eccelstone also made a rare visit on race day. He was on hand to oversee the running of the event and accompanied Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi during his visit to the pits.
The race was an event to remember especially for nine-year old leukemia patient Sharath Suresh, who fulfilled his dream of meeting his idol Michael Schumacher of Ferrari.
Again, the seven-time world champion showed his charisma and class by spending time with Sharath despite his heavy schedule.
Schumacher, who had always worked closely with the United Nations on charity events, talked to Sharath and took him into his racing car and allowed the excited nine-year old to sit in his Ferrari.
Sharaths wish of seeing Schumacher winning the Sepang race, however, did not come true.
Despite his mastery of the Sepang circuit, Schumacher, who had won three of the past seven Malaysian GPs, finished sixth.
Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso, the reigning world champion completed a one-two finish, Renaults first since 1982. Honda's Jenson Button was third.