Report: Australian Grand Prix saved

An Australian newspaper is reporting that the Australian Grand Prix will remain on the F1 calendar until 2015.

According to the Herald Sun the race will stay at Albert Park where it has been since 1996.

Bernie Ecclestone had been pressuring the organisers to turn the event into a night race for the benefit of European TV audiences and othe tracks including Phillip Island and Eastern Creek had been suggested as alternative venues.

The newspaper claims the new race will start at 5pm local time (6am British time) and may start later in the future.

The Herald Sun quotes a government source claiming a formal announcement is “imminent”.

Despite being a popular race among the Formula 1 fraternity the event has struggled financially and some sources suggest it has never made money.

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16 comments on Report: Australian Grand Prix saved

  1. Robert McKay said on 14th June 2008, 22:56

    I asked someone before when sunset was in Melbourne in March and they said “not long after 7pm”, i.e. 5pm being more or less the last time you could start a normal daylight grand prix and finish it before darkness begins to set in. Can anyone confirm/deny this?

    I was just thinking that, as we saw at Nurburgring last year, red flag suspension means a race can finish more than 2 hours after it started…

    I hope people are taking this fact into account and haven’t forgotten about it when deciding race schedules – it’s not as simple as rewinding the clock back an hour and a half from sunset.

  2. Gman said on 14th June 2008, 23:15

    Good point Robert. If the race would need to be stopped for any lenght of time, it could indeed endanger the completion of the event. In any light, the news that the Australian GP will continue is outstanding, as everyone apparently loves the event and the fans down under deserve a quality GP.

  3. francois said on 15th June 2008, 0:05

    On the issue of sunset times in Melbourne causing a possible problem I found this :http://www.australianweddingcompany.com.au/resources/time_melb.php

    They claim in the middle of March we’re looking at a 7.45pm sunset which shouldn’t really cause too much problems in normal circumstances (even if the race runs the full 2 hours).The only problem could come if there were a few huge accidents which need urgent medical assistance (I’m thinking that they held the race up for 50 mins when Ayrton smashed into Tamburello).That’s not likely these days thankfully.

  4. Daniel said on 15th June 2008, 0:20

    is it even possible for a F1 race at the island or the creek???

  5. Robert McKay said on 15th June 2008, 0:38

    Thanks francois that’s useful to know.

  6. Toby said on 15th June 2008, 0:41

    I live in Melbourne, and you picked it right Robert. Sunset is maybe at 7-7:30pm, but the quality of light by then is useless. Pretty dangerous to be driving an F1 car at twilight, wouldn’t you think? Also, lets not forget that it’s the beginning of Autumn here then, so factor some clouds in and you’ve got a dark circuit by 6pm! All this talk of a 5pm start is rubbish – imo the absolute latest they could start the race is 4pm AEST. Paul Stoddart actually pointed all this out over the Oz GP weekend – I believe he called it “stating the obvious”.

  7. Hi Daniel, sadly neither Phillip Island nor Eastern Creek have the facilities to accommodate a Formula One Grand Prix. Both circuits are too small and lack the surrounding infrastructure to host an F1 race. There is a distinct lack of potential Grand Prix venues in Australia so Albert Park is the only realistic option at the moment. Hopefully they have saved it!

  8. We can think what we want about Bernie and his greediness. But even if we forget the safety issues of finishing the race in dark conditions there simply has to be enough light for TV coverage … What would be the sense for Ecclestone to have the race start at decent hours for European audiences if there was a risk that nobody will be able to see the end of the race …

    Let’s see and wait what they come up with…

  9. francois said on 15th June 2008, 10:15

    “There is a distinct lack of potential Grand Prix venues in Australia so Albert Park is the only realistic option at the moment.”

    Do they not want F1 back at Adelaide? – or do they not have enough space in their timetable now they host a lot of V8 touring car races?

  10. The Herald Scum (as it is known locally) may have jumped the gun on this a bit. The Chairman of the AGPC – Ron Walker – meets with Bernie today in London. I’d say an announcement is immiment, but it’s anyones guess as to whether it’s favourable or not. Certainly there must have been preliminary discussions but from what I have heard both sides are pretty intractable on the night race issue (us against, Bernie for). So we’ll just have to see.

    In response to a couple of the questions asked, 5pm would be really too late to run the race because of the sunset at around 7.30-7.45pm. And although the track only faces west for a small amount of time, the sun glare during twilight would be absolutely blinding for the drivers. Then there would be the shadows from the trees etc. 4pm is realisically the latest time the race could start.

    As for alternative venues – there aren’t really any atm. Both Eastern Creek and Philip Island would need significant upgrades to support F1. Also Philip Island is 1.5-2 hrs out of Melbourne with bugger all transport options and limited accommodation. You just wouldn’t get the crowds to justify it.
    Bathurst is out because of the track layout – I’d love to see it, but there is no way the F1 cars would be able to make it through Skyline.

    And the Adelaide track is a bit of a car bender circuit, and I am not sure the FIA would consider it suitable any longer for F1 cars. Plus I don’t beleive the SA Government would have the $$$ to pay Bernie for the fee.

    Fingers crossed, hey?

  11. You raise a very good point Francios. The South Australian Government replaced Formula One in Adelaide with the ‘Clipsal 500’ touring car race. This has now become one of the largest sporting events in Australia and this year drew a crowd of almost 300,000. It may sound awful but they simply don’t need a Grand Prix anymore. Adelaide reaps plenty of benefit from the Aussie V8’s and does so without the massive race fees that F1 would demand.

  12. Scott Joslin said on 16th June 2008, 11:34

    MartyP – I don’t think the organisers of the Melbourne Grand Prix make the decision with financial figures as the main priority as otherwise they would have, as you mentioned just held a round of the V8 championship.

    What the Grand Prix gives the city and Australia as a whole is sporting Kudos in holding a worldwide event as opposed to the national event that is the V8 championship.

    This prestige brings in sponsors and tourism from all over the globe. I am not suggesting for one minute that V8′s cannot do this but only to a lesser extent.

    I am happy Oz is going to stay on the calender as it has it’s own character and atmosphere that rivals any on the F1 circuit.

    I have been to Melbourne in March and the evenings get cool quite quickly around this time, with the track being dusty and unused these low temperatures will make it more difficult to get the temperature in the tires.

  13. Scootin159 said on 16th June 2008, 14:22

    That’s great news, we didn’t have enough 3am races in the US before… no wonder F1 can’t get a stronghold here.

  14. Terry Fabulous said on 16th June 2008, 23:27

    http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,23865230-39478,00.html

    Herald Sun (Scum) reporting that the race is saved for 5 years at 5pm.

    Interestingly, Eastern Creek has brought some Track redesigners, I believe the same org that worked on Silverstone in to produce a report on turning the venue into a F1 quality destination. Stay Tuned.

  15. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th June 2008, 9:52

    Not everyone wants the race saving. This is the city of Port Phillip mayor Janet Cribbes:

    After 14 years, residents have had more than enough. Why should they have to suffer the noise and the inconvenience of a car race in a park for a race whose public price tag blew out to A$41.3m ($38.8m US dollars) last year? The cost of staging the event has risen steadily each year.

    More here

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