Sepang International

In the mid-1990s Malaysia's President Dr Mahathir Mohamad formulated a far-sighted policy to turn the country into a fully industrialised nation by the year 2020. As part of the program he made heavy investment in the automobile business with the Proton car company. He also initiated the sponsorship of the Sauber F1 team by Malaysia's national oil company Petronas with the aim of using F1 as a showcase for Malaysia's high technology.

The most extraordinary part of the Mahathir's plan was the construction of a "Multimedia Super Corridor" linking Kuala Lumpur with the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at Sepang. The corridor would include two "intelligent" cities designed for the 21st century with fibre optic cable networks linking all the buildings and an integrated transportation system. Close to the airport he planned for a Grand Prix standard motor racing facility. This was designed by Germany's Hermann Tilke and work began at the start if 1997. The track was opened in March 1999 with World Champion Mika Hakkinen demonstrating his McLaren-Mercedes. This was followed by a round of the World Motorcycle Championship and in October that year by the inaugural Malaysian GP. The event was a big success and Sepang has a been a regular venue of the World Championship ever since.