The Sepang International Circuit hosted a grand prix from 1999 through to 2017, but due to rising hosting fee costs and declining ticket sales, the plug had to be pulled on one of the most popular races on the calendar.
The possibility it could be revived is due to Malaysia's state oil company Petronas that in October last year secured naming rights to the venue.
Petronas has a longstanding history in F1, dating back to 1995 with its sponsorship of the Red Bull-Sauber Petronas F1 team. Four years later, the company secured the title sponsorship rights for its home grand prix.
From 2010, Petronas then became the title partner of Mercedes, a relationship that will continue beyond 2026 when new power unit and sustainable fuel regulations come into force.
In light of its new ties to the circuit, it is understood Petronas is now investigating the prospect of delivering an F1 race in two years' time, despite the continued expansion of a calendar that this year sets a record with 24 grands prix.
It is reported that during a company town hall event this week, president and CEO Tengku Muhammad Taufik Tengku Aziz outlined plans for the revival of the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2026.
Petronas' financial backing would undoubtedly ease the strain on the Malaysian government. Only last year, sports minister Hannah Yeoh stated that hosting an F1 race was “very expensive”.
“If we could host an F1 race, we already would have done it but for now, we can't afford to have races,” she said at the time.
In September 2022, circuit CEO Azhan Shafriman Hanif outlined the circumstances under which a race could potentially take place.
“Perhaps in another two to three years when the economy has stabilised,” he said. “We need to look at the rebranding, how we monetise the platform. We need to talk about technology transfer, talent development and environmental sustainability.
The circuit has at least retained its grade one status required to stage grands prix. It continues to host MotoGP and numerous other motorsport events.