Sports

A grand prix for the family

Lenny Kravitz will not rock Kuala Lumpur at the end of the month, but Sepang International Circuit (SIC) chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali has secured a replacement to entertain music lovers after the Malaysian Grand Prix on March 29.

"It is last-minute, but we managed to get Girls Generation and EXO," said Razlan, yesterday.

"I heard EXO are the No. 1 K-Pop artistes at the moment, and this is the first time they will perform in Malaysia. The two (groups) will be doing a collaboration."

Two weeks ago, Kravitz, who took to the stage with mega pop star Katy Perry at the Super Bowl last month, had pointed to "contractual scheduling conflicts beyond my control" as the reason for cancelling his date in Kuala Lumpur.

Razlan said the 50-year-old American was planning a tour to coincide with the Malaysian GP, with stops in Australia, Indonesia, China and Philippines, but decided to call off the whole venture because ticket sales were not doing well enough in other countries.

Razlan is disappointed the way things fell through, but he is hopeful the family-oriented strategy adopted by SIC to lure local fans to the track will work.

For this year's race-weekend, parents can take part in various motorsports activities like drifting, gymkhana, rallying and ATV at various pockets around the Sepang circuit.

IMPORTANCE

For the mums and girlfriends, there will be bazaars and boutiques, while the children will have a carnival-like area to have fun.

Razlan emphasised the importance of fan activation.

"The question is: How can we get fans closer to Formula 1?" he said.

"That's the constant challenge."

Technical changes, like the Formula 1 cars' new hybrid 1.6-litre V6 turbo engines, which are not as loud as the former 2.4-litre high-revving V8 engines, are beyond promoters' control.

But he still feels the sport can do more to engage fans.

"There is a lot of emphasis on sponsors rather than (us) promoters," said Razlan.

"We get only a one-hour autograph session with the drivers, each of them for 20 minutes.

"What can they do?

"I pity fans who queue from 8.30am in the morning, stand for hours under the hot sun and end up with nothing.

"At least, now (F1) is waking up.... On our own, the promoters does their best to convince Bernie (Ecclestone, F1 supremo) to allow them to do certain things.

"For Malaysia, it begins on Friday when we are the only circuit that offers Malaysian schools a (tour of the) pitlane for ticket-holders. Even then, sometimes you just see the cars. No one entertains the kids.

"Come on. If you can't get the drivers, at least get the crew to be there in their full uniform, hand out postcards with autographs, something.

"For spectators, even a photograph with a mechanic in a Ferrari outfit pun dah cukup (is enough).

"But, F1 is waking up."