March 23rd, 2013 (AFP) - Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has backed the Malaysian Grand Prix to continue past its current contract but said the tired Sepang circuit needed a "paint job", a report said Saturday.
Ecclestone said he had "no dramas" with Malaysia's Formula One grand prix, now into its 15th edition, but organisers needed to complete their ongoing, multi-year refurbishment of the racetrack near Kuala Lumpur.
"They need to finish what they started. It is obviously not the same as Singapore. Maybe because they don't spend the money," he said in a telephone interview, according to The Star.
Malaysia joined the Formula One circuit in 1999 but it has been outshone by the glitzy race in neighbouring Singapore, held at night on a street circuit snaking past major landmarks, which debuted in 2008.
Ecclestone, 82, also said organisers needed to attract bigger crowds to Sepang, which is about an hour's drive from the capital. But he welcomed the prospect of Malaysia extending beyond its current contract, which expires in 2015.
"Of course. As long as they want us," Ecclestone said. "They do a very, very good job. And it is a good circuit, I think. There are no dramas and all the people are very nice and good to deal with."
The race has top-level backing in Malaysia with Prime Minister Najib Razak saying it had created thousands of jobs and attracted large numbers of tourists.
"The event has proved to be a good investment," he said in the event's official programme. "Over the course of this grand prix weekend, 100,000 spectators will come to the country."