Prime Minister To Launch F1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix 2007

11th January, Kuala Lumpur - The 2007 Formula One Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix, to be held at Sepang F1 Circuit from April 6 to 8, will be officially launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday (January 16) at Impiana KLCC Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

The ninth edition of the Malaysia's F1 race, which will feature the second round of the 2007 Formula One World Championship, would be launched amidst a showcase of lights and colours to project this year's theme of 'It's Thrilling Out There'.

"With all the buzz and excitement surrounding the Visit Malaysia Year festivities and celebrations, we at the circuit are even more excited than before with the 2007 race," says Sepang International Circuit (SIC) General Manager Datuk Ahmad Mustafa.

Ahmad, who is the 2007 Formula One Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix event director, believed that with the support of the Visit Malaysia Year programmes with listless benefits and incentives for foreign tourists, the event would become Malaysia's best ever F1 race.

First staged in 1999, the F1 race is organized as a national event by Malaysia to enhance its image globally and as part of the Government's effort to develop motorsports in Malaysia and promote the country as an international tourist destination.

Targeting 120,000 spectators including 48,000 foreigners for this year's race on April 8, Ahmad said their effort in wooing the spectators was also helped by the fact that the new season started with plenty of uncertainties and excitement brought about the some major changes in the drivers' line-up.

"We know that Michael Schumacher will not be competing anymore. Kimi Raikkonen is driving for Ferrari; taking over from Michael but (Felipe) Massa wants to be the No 1 driver. World champion Fernando Alonso is starting new with McLaren and obviously would demand for a strong reliable machine to defend his title."

"There's also plenty of hype on the new McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton being the first black driver, Giancarlo Fisichella is now the No 1 driver in Renault and he will now have maximum support the team unlike previously when Alonso was the first driver for the team."

"Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button will obviously be stronger this year with Honda. Similarly, with Toyota, BMW and Red Bull Racing. So, there are plenty of things happening in the pre-season and plenty of excitement in store for the fans," added Ahmad.

With Sepang as the second round after Melbourne, Ahmad said the thrill and excitement would be even higher for the fans as the teams and drivers would be better prepared; having shaken off their early season jitter in the opening round in Australia.

"On top of that, the teams and drivers would be entering the race in Sepang fresh from a three-day testing at the circuit itself in the preceding week. Naturally, they will be very prepared for the race in Sepang," he added.

Watched by more than 107,000 spectators and some 600 million more live on TV, the 2006 race in Sepang was won by Fisichella; beating team mate Alonso to second place and Jenson Button completing the podium.

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