Melbourne, Victoria – current hosts of the Australian Grand Prix – have been in the wars recently. Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been firing off threats like there’s no tomorrow, claiming that the only way for the Australian Grand Prix to continue is if it is held at night. The main idea behind the strategy for Ecclestone is that a race in Australia at night would be broadcast live to those living in Europe at prime-time. However, Australian race promoters have said no. The race has been put back by 1.5 hours for 2008, and it has also been suggested it could go as far back as 5pm local time for 2009. But Ecclestone doesn’t appear to be entirely happy about this. Step in Sydney…
The Albert Park circuit does have a contract up to and including the 2010 event, but after that it seems the only way for renewal is for the race to be held under floodlights. With Albert Park opposed to the idea, but wanting to keep Australia on the calendar, Sydney have come forward and offered interest in the event.
Eastern Creek, a circuit in New South Wales, has recently seen its facilities updated and modernised. According to the area’s Premier, Morris Iemma, the track could easily be converted to meet the stringent Formula One requirements for safety and sponsor-schmoozing.
We’ve got the track that can be upgraded and modified to meet Formula One’s needs and also the needs of motorsport fans. There’s no issue here with interfering with residents or commercial businesses. It’s a standalone racing track. We’ve helped in the past and we will continue to do so.
We are investing $85 million over three years into our major events corporation and it’s all about getting back into the business of big events. There’s no reason motor racing can’t be part of our major events calendar. Morris Iemma.
There was some talk of the race returning its former home of Adelaide, but this interest from Sydney could be the lifeline Australia needs to remain on the calendar.