KUALA LUMPUR, April 8, 2007 (AFP)
- Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone was quoted saying the Sepang circuit was getting "shabby" from lack of care just hours before Sunday's race.
"It has become, if you don't mind, like an old house that needs a bit of redecorating," the New Straits Times quoted him as saying in an interview. "It's starting to get a little shabby and looks a bit tired."
His remarks come with neighbouring Singapore making noises about trying to host a Formula One race, something that has already drawn a sharp rebuke from Malaysia's ministry for sport.
Ecclestone acknowledged that it was difficult to keep Sepang tidy because of its large 260-hectare size but said the circuit had to put its best face forward.
"The circuit itself is fine, it's the general structure around," he said.
"There is rubbish all over the place and it's not really a good sign for Malaysia. We're on worldwide television and it needs to look good, much like in the beginning."
Malaysia hosted its first F1 Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999 and last year promoters Sepang International Circuit (SIC) renewed the contract for another five years.
The Star daily meanwhile said Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had met with Ecclestone Saturday to discuss extension of the Formula One contract beyond 2010.
SIC chair Mokhzani Mahathir said Ecclestone's Formula One Management would hand over a draft agreement soon, and that the ball was in Malaysia's court.
"We will study the draft agreement and see whether it is feasible to extend," Mokhzani was quoted as saying.