F1: Sombre Sepang, smaller crowd

F1: Sombre Sepang, smaller crowd
A woman writes on a wall dedicated to the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 before the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur, March 30, 2014.

The atmosphere at Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang was clearly subdued.

Though organisers could not confirm final attendance numbers, Sepang International Circuit (SIC) chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali doubts crowd figures will reach the targeted 90,000 for the three-day event.

The obvious reason for the low turnout was that Malaysia was still in mourning following the MH370 tragedy, but Razlan also felt the controversy over the new, quieter V6 engines could have affected fan interest.

The new Formula 1 cars feature hybrid 1.6-litre V6 turbo engines that are not as loud as the former 2.4-litre high-revving V8 engines.

"There have been many negative comments about the sound of the new cars after the Australian GP (two weeks ago), both from the fans and even the drivers themselves," Razlan said.

"I think many people were discouraged by that. Ask Formula 1 fans anywhere and they'll tell you one of the reasons they love this sport is because of the noise, the roar of the engines."

Razlan added that the heavy rain which fell during qualifying on Saturday might have also discouraged people to travel to Sepang, which is a one-hour journey from Kuala Lumpur.

Rain did fall during the race yesterday, but only intermittently, and it did not affect activity on the track.

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