THE Malaysian Grand Prix will bow out today after 19 years.
The inaugural F1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix was held in October 1999.
It was the age before Internet video streaming and social media. There was no Facebook or Twitter, no Instagram to share your selfies garbed in the gear of your favourite team.
Despite this, 80,000 spectators turned up for the event and an estimated 600 million watched the race on television.
That year, Malaysia became the first Southeast Asian country to host an F1 race.
Over the years, the Malaysian Grand Prix gained a reputation among drivers as one of the hottest and most challenging. It became a favourite among many drivers.
Michael Schumacher, who drove for Mercedes-Petronas, said in 2011:
“Let’s put it like this: we consider Malaysia one of our home Grands Prix, so it obviously gives us a big boost to go there and have the support of Petronas and Malaysians. The track is great as it gives you a wide variety of possibilities during every lap. You can take multiple lines through some of the corners, which is something you can do hardly anywhere else. I have always liked driving on the track.”
His team mate at the time, Nico Rosberg said in 2011: “To be honest, Sepang is my favourite circuit on the Formula One calendar. It’s fast and challenging with a nice layout and a real variation of corners which make it an exciting track to drive on.”
Recently, Lewis Hamilton said it was sad that the race would be the last.
This, despite the fact that since racing there from 2007, he has won just once - in 2014.
“It is definitely sad to think this is the last race. It’s the most challenging for the car and the team, so they are taking away one of the toughest, if not the toughest, Grand Prix of the season, which will be hard to replace.”
Here are some interesting tidbits on the F1 race in Sepang, according to the formula1.com website:
The average lap speed at the Sepang International Circuit for Formula 1 is 214kph.
No man has won more Malaysian Grands Prix than Sebastian Vettel, who won the race four times.
The only Malaysian driver to race in the event is Alex Yoong, who started last on the grid for Minardi in 2002, before retiring from the race with gearbox problems on lap 30.
In total, he had 14 F1 starts, with a best finish of seventh place in Australia in 2002.