Malaysian state oil company Petronas has denied that a comeback for the Malaysian Grand Prix is on the cards, after reports circulated about a possible 2026 return.
The Sepang International Circuit entered a title naming deal with Petronas last year, and a report from Reuters had claimed that the company is trying to bring the track back to the F1 calendar, having fallen away in 2017 through rising hosting costs and a fall in ticket sales.
The track, which was circuit designer Hermann Tilke’s first to have made it into Formula 1, proved popular among drivers for its fast, challenging layout, with unpredictable weather often playing a factor during race weekends as well.
Malaysia F1 2026 return report denied by Petronas
Reuters’ report claimed that Petronas’ plans to campaign to bring Formula 1 back to Malaysia were mooted in a company townhall on Tuesday, led by company president and chief executive Tengku Muhammad Taufik Tengku Aziz.
Petronas already hold a significant presence in F1 through their name being part of the official full name of the Mercedes team, having been long-term partners of the eight-time Constructors’ champions.
However, a statement released by the company has moved to quash that speculation immediately.
The company wrote: “PETRONAS refers to the news reports published on 31 January 2024 on the potential return of the Formula One Grand Prix to Sepang, Malaysia, in 2026.
“We would like to confirm that there have been no discussions on bringing the sport back to the PETRONAS Sepang International Circuit.”
The Sepang International Circuit has retained FIA Grade 1 status since F1 last raced at the track, with several other series, including MotoGP, having raced there since.
Prior to Petronas’ takeover of the circuit’s naming rights, the track’s chief executive had ruled out an immediate return to F1 due to the economic situation in Malaysia.
“At this juncture, the answer is no, not for the time being,” Azhan Shafriman Hanif Shafriman told reporters in September 2022.
“Perhaps in another two to three years when the economy has stabilised.
“We need to look at the rebranding, how we monetise the platform. We need to talk about technology transfer, talent development and environmental sustainability.
“If Formula 1 were to come back to Malaysia, it has to be hinged on something else, not only on the race. There must be another purpose why we are doing Formula 1.”