Hordes of fans at Sepang mob Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver Lewis Hamilton (bottom right) for his autograph. - Bernama
SEPANG: Fans began arriving as early as 8.30am today for what will be the last Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix here.
Dark clouds looming above at noon appeared to reflect the general mood at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) for its last Formula 1 race.
The main grandstand saw a full house as spectators watched the supporting races before the Formula 1 race takes place at 3pm.
Risk Analyst E. Subash, 26, said this was a sad day for him.
"I have been watching Formula 1 since 1997. I really hope they bring it back," he said when met at the circuit.
His friend, public relations practitioner, T. Avineshwaran, 26, said he was here because he wanted to be a part of history.
"I'm pretty upset they are removing Malaysia from the Formula 1 calendar.
"Sepang has always been an exciting race. I wonder what is next for the circuit?" he asked.
Other spectators were spotted wearing shirts bearing the insignia of their favourite teams, while others were seen carrying the flags of their favourite driver's country of origin.
Some fans came prepared with raincoats and umbrellas, as intermittent rain is predicted.
VIPs were seen arriving at the circuit at around 1.15pm, just in time to witness the end of the race for the Porsche Carrera Cup.
F1 fan Ha Maggie, 34, travelled all the way from Vietnam with her eight colleagues to watch what would be her first and last Malaysian Grand Prix.
"This is a very special moment for me! This may be my first and last chance to watch the Grand Prix.
"But since I'm a big fan of Lewis Hamilton, I'd probably follow him to whatever race he joins next!" said Maggie, with a laugh.
Maggie and her colleagues were all dressed identically in green shirts, in support of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team.
Local songstress Ning Baizura is set to sing the national anthem before the race begins.
A special fly-by from four Royal Malaysia Air Force F-18 fighter jets will take place after the national anthem.
In a related development, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the door is still open for the Formula 1 race to make a comeback one day if economic conditions are favourable.
He said hosting the race had been a case of diminishing returns for the country in recent years.
"Because of that, its economic viability became less attractive and we decided to review and terminate it,” he said.
"But that doesn't mean we can't reconsider it at some point of time in the future, provided economic returns are favourable to us," added Najib, who spoke to reporters here today.