Hosting the Formula One (F1) race, the biggest motorsports event in Malaysia since 1999, has created sustained positive global media exposure for Malaysia, said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
"With the addition of the GP2 and GP3 series, I am confident that this year's Malaysian round will attract more attention than ever.
"In the past, as many as 500 million viewers from over 180 countries watched or followed the proceedings of the F1 Grand Prix in Malaysia through television as well as print and social media platforms.
"I believe this number has the potential to grow even further this year," said Najib in his message published in the event's official programme book.
The prime minister added that the introduction of the GP2 and GP3 Series and the change of date of the Malaysian race would create a range of opportunities to promote the event to a wider audience.
"Being the 16th of 21 round, the dynamics of the F1 Grand Prix race will be different. With around three-quarters of the season over, fans will have different expectations of their favourite drivers and teams, and this will offer a different impetus to come to Sepang to support them live," he said.
The spirit of patriotism, he said, would also come into play as Nabil Jeffri, a talented Malaysian driver, would be racing in the GP2 Series.
He noted that local interest was further strengthened by the continued success of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, with reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg leading the challenge for the title this year.