Start, Melbourne, 2010

Melbourne faces fresh calls to drop its Grand Prix

F1 Fanatic round-upPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

In today’s round-up: another politician urges Melbourne to stop hosting its F1 race.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Residents fed up with noisy Grand Prix, says MP (The Age)

“The Grand Prix may have been a good deal in 1996 when it cost the government only AUS $1.7 million, but with falling crowd numbers and taxpayers footing a AUS $50-million-a-year bill, the state government should know to cut its losses and walk away.”

Bahrain withdraw from 2011 GP2 Asia Series calendar (GP2 Asia)

The cancellation means the GP2 Asia championship, which was supposed to include six races, is over after just one double-header event – unless further rounds are organised.

Barcelona future dependant on finances (Autosport)

“The future of the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona beyond the 2012 season will depend on economic factors, according to Catalunya’s president Artur Mas.”

Sebastien Buemi Q&A: I am hungry for points (F1)

“I definitely don?t want to go below last year. I at least want to be as good as last year. I want to be a regular points? scorer. I am really hungry for points. I didn?t have enough last season!”

Martin Brundle on Twitter

Mercedes has poor traction, McLaren looks shocking as if on cold tyres, Red Bull, Ferrari, Renault-Lotus-Lada and Williams all pounding round.”

Via the F1 Fanatic live Twitter app

Sign of Progress at Austin F1 track

“Presidents Day was no holiday at the planned US Grand Prix site south-east of Austin. More machines – and bigger ones – moving around. What?s more, the sign is up, marking the spot.”

Follow F1 news as it breaks using the F1 Fanatic live Twitter app.

From the archive

Race cancellations and postponements, like that we saw yesterday, don’t happen very often.

The last race to be postponed was the 1985 Belgian Grand Prix. And it wasn’t due to political unrest, but because the track fell apart.

Read about it below:

Comment of the day

A comment from Chris who had tickets for the now-cancelled Bahrain Grand Prix:

A friend and I bought tickets, flights and booked a hotel in Manama for the Bahrain GP at the end of 2010. I?ve been looking forward to it hugely, so was extremely anxious when the unrest began and it emerged that the race might be threatened. I?m sure there will be a lot of people who were in a similar situation ?ǣ checking the news every day for the last week or so to see how the situation developed.

Cancelling the race is probably the right decision. The start of a new F1 season should have a celebratory atmosphere, which, with all the security and tension, wouldn?t have been present in Bahrain. Any kind of radical behaviour from protesters, justified or not, would have been a disaster for the sport and the safety of the teams, fans and circuit staff is paramount. The situation is more severe than anyone in the UK knows, and they clearly need time to talk and to bring about change.

That said, from a purely personal viewpoint, I?m totally gutted that we won?t be going.

From the forum

An historical question on Cosworth from Clovis1982.

Site updates

The menu at the top of the page now drops down when you hover over it, to give quicker access to pages on F1 Fanatic.

There will be further changes to the pages, menus and the organisation of the content in them over the coming weeks. As ever if you have any suggestions for things you’d like to see, please post them in the comments.

Happy birthday!

No F1 Fanatic birthdays today. If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Happy birthday to Niki Lauda who is 62 today!

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

121 comments on “Melbourne faces fresh calls to drop its Grand Prix”

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  1. Regarding site changes, can we have the top 30 commenters section back please? :)

    1. Will do. Need to make a couple of code changes for it though so it’s not going to be back very soon.

      1. The drop down menus are great! Much easier to find things now.

      2. I like the drop menues as well, it keeps getting better!

      3. How about an edit function for comments… ;-)

        1. I second that. It would be very handy.

      4. Also regarding site changes, is the mobile version going to be put back up anytime soon? Or are you getting rid of it permanently?

        Thanks Keith

        1. And also I just noticed that the link on the Comment Policy page thats ment to link to the forumn comment policy actually links to this…

          I dont think thats right…

      5. and also the little forum box we used to have on the main page?

      6. The site now has an horizontal scroll-bar that brings nowhere.

      7. the site has been improving, good job.

    2. the top 30 thing would be awesome. I’ll finally be able to measure how much of a fanatic I am ;)

  2. So, first Bahrain, now Melbourne. Maybe the whole season will drop out the calender. :-)

    1. Yeah, Imagine if the people of Kashmir decide to protest for independence again. Or the South Korean students go to the streets. Who knows, the Chinese might even go to Tiananmen square again.

      It seems the extra attention brought on by F1 has possible even done some good in Bahrain. Without the GP the regime probably wouldn’t have backed down so quickly.

      So if someone has a protest, do it just before a GP to attract some extra attention for the cause and some more pressure on the regime.

      1. Or maybe UK student riots again.

        1. I was just thinking the world famous protestors in the UK protest recently for stopping student fees, and fail.

          Yet Ireland, Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain all protest for leadership change and are well on the way to succeeding!!

          1. Well, one is several orders of magnitude more important than the other. If the fight really matters, people put more heart into it.

            By the way, the UK protest for stopping student fees wasn’t really “world famous”. In Polish media for example it barely got mentioned.

          2. I meant that Britons have become sort of renowned for protesting. :P

          3. Our Election’s this Friday by the way (Ireland) so we’ll see what changes then. :)

          4. You’re still far behind our protests (French that is). And in any case, I don’t think UK students can compare to Bahrainis… Except maybe they did what nobody believed they could be doing.

      2. Seems in the Kavkaz reagion people are also taking up the example from north Africa and the arab world and are ramping up protests.

        On Czech Radio they questioned the bid for the olympics in Sochi being hampered. That might get the Russian GP in trouble as well.

        Who’s next in line?

        1. The Caucasus region? So not going to happen. Remember Beijing Olympics? Russia is equally good at quieting things down when it’s needed. Also when it comes to North Africa or Arab countries there’s a huge difference in international support. When China or Russia were seriously condemned for their actions against it’s own people? International politics is full of hypocrisy.

          1. Cynical but oh, so right you are. Russia is just to big and gas rich to boycott or ignore.

            And it would probably be presented as sectarian religious fanatics or separatists anyway.

          2. True to an extent. But purely objectively speaking – there is an issue of how many of a country’s own citizens decide to stand up and say no to the government at once. International support for what’s happening throughout the Arab world is coming because it’s quite obvious that in most places the majority of the population is saying ‘we are not free’ in a loud voice. If it were oppressed minorities trying to rise up, it would probably have been met with the usual see no evil, hear no evil.

            I was born in communism so I have no illusions about repressive systems – but every dictatorship is at least partly enabled by the passivity of the population; whether it be out of fear or fatigue or any other reason. I seriously doubt that the Chinese and Russian governments would find much international support if their capital cities were filled with the same kinds of protests and widespread uprising we’ve seen recently.

          3. BasCB:”And it would probably be presented as sectarian religious fanatics or separatists anyway.”

            Which, as a matter of fact is all they are really, apart from the notion that even those “superlatives” aren’t enough to describe the bastars that blown up a bomb in that airport recently killing lots of citizens or those who held up a school hostage about 12 years ago and killed about 200 children(I’m not good with remembering numbers but it was in the hundreds), etc. etc. Really, words cannot describe what they really are, and if the west won’t learn to protect itself from that kind, instead of crying “Russia this, Russia that” or my personal favourite “Those security checks are inhuman”(are they? Do you prefere the above option?” then there will be many more Madrid train stations, London metros and WTC’s.
            Regarding separatists: Caucasus has been under Russian rule for hundreds of years, and before that under Ottoman rule, and before that under the Mongolian and the Chazar’s rule. If the separatists are right, the we should break up the US into 20 pieces, the UK into at least 6, and I can go on and on with that. The world will not become a better place for it, quite the opposite.

            P.S. Sorry for the long post, but some are too liberal for their own good. Soon if they don’t wake up they’ll find themselves under the rule of those who don’t care one bit about liberalism, human rights or the most sacred of all-the value of human life. By then it’ll be too late.Oh, and if you’re about to ask, I’m not Russian.

          4. Montreal95 – there’s lots things that that can be said about your post, and one of them is that you’re confusing oppressed populations with the terrorists who claim to speak in their name. And as for separatism: being an upstanding citizen of the Western world, I’m sure you wouldn’t deny the freedom-loving peoples of the world the principle of self-determination that’s at the very foundation of our concept of independent states, would you?

    2. This kind of talk happens every year. In situations like these it’s just the minority that make the most noise.

      The grand prix is a massive event for Melbourne, and generally very popular. I have no doubt that the people in charge know this. If Melbourne didn’t have major events like this no one (well me anyway) would never set foot in the place.

  3. All this talk of losing tracks makes me sad :( I’m not overly moved by Catalunya but Melbourne is great.

  4. Oh and both Buemi and Alguersuari will be under real scrutiny this year. I can forgive them last year, it was the first year STR had to build and design their own car…but this year I’m expecting more.

    1. I very much doubt STR run completely independent of RBR. My feeling is that they get some technical input from the prent company.
      I mean both cars were even launched close to each other.

      1. Don’t they have Red Bull Technology gearboxes like Team Lotus?

        1. They have the Ferrari rear end to come with the engine, just like Sauber does.

  5. Ah, I just “discovered” Formula 1 last year, and Melbourne is one of my favorite tracks already. Would be a shame to see it go.

  6. Captain Sorbet
    22nd February 2011, 0:21

    May I just wish my happiest regards to Juan Pablo Heidfeld. We all though you had gone to The states forever, now you’re back to replace Robert to get your first win!

    1. LOL! Racing NASCAR and F1 both in one season is gonna be a tight schedule!

    2. A Heidfeld with Juan Pablo’s aggressiveness might be a winning combination;-)

      1. Nah, Montoya with Heidfeld’s consistency and judgement would be a winning combination.

        1. and without Montoya’s ginormous belly.

    3. LOL, must be pretty good for a birthday. As JPM did a very good 500 and quit some testing milage as well.

  7. Okay, now I’m willing to take claims about Melbourne seriously. The Lord Mayor was in no position to comment, since the arrangement between Ecclestone and the circuit was not made with the Lord Mayor. It gets funding from the state of Victoria, and the guy who is making the comments now is a sitting Member of Parliament, and someone who is actually able to influence the race, not some wannabe politician who is full of hot air.

    1. So how do you rate our chance of seeing even a 2012 Grand Prix? I can see Bernie spitting it shortly and just getting rid of it as quickly as possible. As we speak (this is how worried I am) I am frantically scouring the South Melbourne area for accommodation on Google Maps. I am not having much luck, though! :(

      1. I’d say they’ll see out the contract and then simply not renew it. The MP who made those comments said they would “politely decline” an extension, and the contract is good until 2014 or 2015; Doyle was the one looking to cancel it with immediate effect. It’s likely someone will come up with an alternative venue in the meantime.

        1. Yawn. Every year from January to March The Age is full of axe-the-GP articles and letters. And as much as I love that venerable publication, it has had an axe to grind about the GP from the get go, which stems from the politics associated with it. As for the MP for Port Melbourne, well he is a federal MP. The GP is hosted by the State of Victoria. So while he can espouse all he likes in Federal Parliament about it, he still has no say in the future of the event.

          1. Exactly, he’s a Federal MP, and the GP is a State thing.

            He’s simply another politician playing the popularity game by appeasing his constituents against the GP (I’d imagine a lot of them within earshot, or are severely affected by the traffic). He can’t do anything about it, so he’s absolved from blame when it’s still around, and has the ability to curry favour for many years with his voters.

            Doing a little digging reveals his predecessor in the Federal Seat of Melbourne Ports – Clyde Holding – was also against the race…what a surprise!

          2. Whether the MP sits in a Federal or State legislative chamber is irrelevant.His responsibility (and role) is to act as a representative for his constituents’ interests and opinions. He has to make such statements.

            The actual decision lies with a different administration but if the MP has the backing of his constituents, the State government would do well to take that into account.

      2. Yeh, except the sitting member is a member of the opposition. If a sitting member of the party in government said that then you can take it seriously. I lived in this MP’s electorate (100m from the track) and he used to make all sorts of noise about everything but never had any actual influence, even when his party was in government. A lot of his mates from his party lost their seats in the recent election so he’s sucking up to his electorate to save his own seat. Just my reading into it anyway.

        1. Sounds like a pretty good analyses Andrew. Anyhow I would guess Bernie will wait a bit with any cancellation of contracts early now until the world settles down, CVC get out of their legal troubles and sell the whole gig on.

      3. Check along St Kilda road. I stayed at the park regis suites which was about 100 meters from Albert Park. There is also the quest apartments Windsor and the Seasons Heritage nearby too. If in doubt however pick something close to St Kilda road because the Trams run down there that makes life a lot easier.

      4. come stay at my house!

        but seriously.. the hating of the AGP has just turned into political ammunition.. most of the comments on the website are from people complaining about a sport where “cars go in circles”.. they complain that the bogans can go elsewhere, then contradict themeselves with complaining about “the millionares toy car race”

        noone seems to notice the publicity of F1 overseas.. when i compared it to the Football world cup, i got shot down.

        1. Exactly, and that’s the problem. But it does annoy me when people think that F1 fans are ‘bogans’. Every ‘bogan’ I’ve ever met absolutely hates F1 because there aren’t any ‘bogans’ in it, or for that matter, interested in it.

    2. The guy making the comments is a member of the Commonwealth government (the government of Australia), not the Victorian government, therefore he has no say over how Victoria spend its money. Furthermore he is a Labor MP, and the government in Victoria is a Liberal government, so even if the Libs wanted to scrap the Grand Prix, they’d probably keep it just to spite Labor.

      Finally I would suggest that is survey is statistically irrelevant. He represents 97,766 citizens, and he surveyed only 600 of them. That equates to asking 6 people out of every 1000 what they think of something. When you do that it’s pretty easy to only ask the 6 who you think will give you the answer you want.

  8. I’m really not sure what’s going on at mclaren. What confuses me is that when for the last 2 years they have simply said where they think they are in testting, (so by the 3rd test in 09 they said they were stuggling) this year all they’ve said is “we are on track”. Also, the main issue seems to be more down to set-up rather than a fundamental downforce problem. Finally, am i right in thinking they are still running their 2010 front wing? Seems odd that they wouldn’t have run a single new front wing in 3 tests (2 with new car), could this mean we’re in for something radical?

    1. if you ask me there designs a crock for the second time in three years and there just not admitting it. Why they couldn’t have done what they where good at and improved on last years design, a la Ferrari and Redbull, they’d have been right on the money. BUT NO!

      Ahhhh when was the last time McLaren innovated their way to the title, 98? It’s getting silly.

      1. That coming from a fan must really hurt you to say. I fear you might well be right.
        Good job McLaren try something different and interesting for the tech fan, but what if they would just keep it simple and be fast?

        But their car from last year was probably to much focussed on optimizing the DDD and having the F-duct to drop drag, so not really a good base for working on. They need to get into some stability though, be able to just built on from the year before, like RB or Ferrari.

        1. @BasCB

          I think you are right, their car was too focussed on those specific ideas to be the basis for this year where those two specific ideas are absent.

          Presumably they saw some pretty convincing figures in their CFD and then proved them again in the wind tunnel before committing to such an adventurous design.
          Let’s hope all their modelling and callobrations are correct and that it will therefore “come good” sooner or later.

    2. They haven’t done too many laps compared to the other front runners. Maybe they really don’t know too much yet.

      1. Its seems that is mainly because they have been running different exhaust configs. I assume they ran the same one all day yesterday, the slower one. It not two late, they have over a month.

    3. Finally, am i right in thinking they are still running their 2010 front wing? Seems odd that they wouldn’t have run a single new front wing in 3 tests (2 with new car), could this mean we’re in for something radical?

      Most of the teams are still using a version of their 2010 front wing so I wouldn’t read anything into McLaren doing likewise.

      My concern is that, like last year, they’ve built a car which is hard to setup and even harder to find the sweet spot. One of the things that I remember reading about their 2007 and 2008 cars was that they were really easy to find a good setup with which is why they were easily so fast. You can have the fastest car on the grid, but if the drivers can’t set it up how they need it then you’re not going to show it.

      What concerns me more is the reliability issues McLaren seem to be having – that’s not something I’m used to seeing as a Macca fan. I don’t think things are anywhere near as bad as 2009, and I do think they’ve got a fast car there (though maybe a little behind RBR and Ferrari at the moment) but they need to get the testing miles on it and start making some headway.

  9. I knew that GP2 Asia holding 66% of its rounds on 1 track was a joke.

    1. The problem with GP2 Asia is that all of the races are flyaway events, which makes them much more expensive than the European races, which they can simply drive to. GP2 Asia used to go as far afield as Sentul in Indonesia and Sepang in Malaysia, but the costs just piled up and it stopped being worth it. But the concept of GP2 Asia and the way teams are encouraged to run drivers who do not hold racing licences issued in traditional racing nations (England, Germany, Brazil, etc.) is a good one because it opens up the door for foreign talent at the highest level of competition short of Formula 1.

      1. It was a bit like a young driver contest while also testing the new equipment.

        Shame they were not able to do Bahrain, Dubai, Quatar and Abu Dhabi at least, with maybe a stop in Turkey on the way back home. But the cost were just far to high, just like joining the fly away races in F1 would not be an option.

  10. Many countries are finding it way too expensive to host Bernie and then also, the race.
    One could argue about the benefit to the economy, exposure and all what not, however, the painful reality is that the organisers are gettng a low return on their investments.
    Of course if they were sposored by the government then it may not be so difficult for the municipality hosting the event.

    The dictatorships that make such large sums are mainly in the middle east, but these too may be non existent in a twinkle of an eye, going by recent developments.

    So Bernie may have to consider a reduction in this extortion racket and safe guard those worthy venues.

    And a happy birthday to J P Hiedfeld.

    1. Unfortunately Bernie doesn’t much care for the fans or the circuits we all love. He’ll take his business to the highest bidder every time, to the detriment of the classic circuits.

  11. I have a question Keith!

    Which gp’s are paid for in full by governments and which are paid for by private companies/associations? Or are there any gp’s that are part subsidised by governments?

    It would be cool to have an article discussing how all the tracks around the world are funded/paid for, if that info is available.


    1. Most apart from Britain, I would say.

  12. Keith, I’m having more and more trouble loading pages on the site. Same problem I described a couple days ago in the roundup. I get the top bar, a gray box, and then it just goes into an infinite loop of trying to load different ad servers. I run Google Chrome 9.0.597.102 for Mac OS X 10.6.6.

    1. I too have had issues – articles have updated then they have disappeared. Or on the main page they don’t seem to be updating as comments are added. I use firefox 3.6 and have tried refreshing cookies – to no avail

      1. Same here – seems to be the Ad Servers taking forever loading.

        I too am using Chrome (9.0.597.98) on a Windows 7 PC.

  13. I’ve got firefox and haven’t had any problems

    1. Edward Marshall
      22nd February 2011, 6:43

      I’m on that exact setup but haven’t had issues.
      Have you got any smart add-ons or anything that could be causing issues?

      You mentioned it was going between servers, does it say which?

      1. the top of my F1F page looks like this:

        Firefox 3.5.16, Windows XP SP2

        1. Presumably a hard refresh (Ctrl-F5) doesn’t clear it? Looks like an old version of the CSS file is still cached somehow.

          1. Indeed it has! Normal service resumed.

  14. If pollies in Melbourne don’t want the GP, it should go back to Adelaide.

    1. If Melbourne can’t afford it anymore then there is no way Adelaide would be able to. Back when Adelaide had the GP they were not paying the kind of money that today’s GP hosts pay.

      1. Hmm… I agree, RIP wishful planning of returning to one of the great street circuits ever.

    2. or Brisbane !

      1. That would be nice, but since the QLD government can’t even keep our roads in good condition I doubt they’d be able to host a grand prix on anything better than a tarred goat track.

    3. Even if it’s a longshot… at least the infrastructure’s been improved. Our airport has since been upgraded from a shed to an actual airport.

      1. Sounds more like something for an IRC or WRC event then!

  15. Michael Griffin
    22nd February 2011, 1:52

    Something I keep seeing intermittently is “future of grand prix depends on (insert factor)”

    Most of the time it is the sheer cost of holding a grand prix. Holding the grand prix itself doesn’t cost much, and is easily recouped from tickets sales, advertising, etc.

    One big factor is the license to hold the event. Or as it’s more commonly known: lining the pockets of Sir Bernard of Ecclestone.

    More and more historic and/or great tracks are being lost to this great sport, not because of “tough economic times” or ” a lack of support for F1″, its entirely the fault of Bernie.

    Rather than going to oil states to further impress his bank manager, how about the commercial rights belong to a person or organization whose best interests are not the price of the event, rather the prestige.

    The FIA.

    Hopefully that day will come eventually. We/I can but hope.

    Apologies for the rant Keith/everyone else, but that’s been building for months.

    1. Its not Bernie’s pockets getting lined so much as CVC’s coffers.

    2. I did read somewhere that the FiA might use the potential legal issues CVC finds itself facing to try and get the commercial rights to the sport back under Federation control.

      I for one would welcome that!!

      1. McLarenFanJamm
        22nd February 2011, 8:52

        Jean Todt has apparently been targeting the rights to F1 since he got the FIA presidents role. I can’t say I’d be against that.

        Whilst I agree that F1 should broaden its Horizons and move into new markets, it should still go to places where there is at least some interest from the public and not just from the respective governing bodies wanting to show off how much money they have. See Bahrain/UAE/China for examples, no interest from the public whatsoever.

        Turkey, whilst not really a statement of wealth from the rulers, is also another track that attracts sparse crowds, and this is despite being arguably the best of the “Tilke” tracks.

        1. While FIA control will probably come with its own set of problems and fan frustrations – I think the chances are that track selection would become more based on sporting considerations, at least to some extent, rather than on empty glamour venues à la Bernie. One way or another, I think that few people (besides Bernie) would mind a change of management.

        2. Best Tilke track, that’s a bit like being the tallest midget.

          1. McLarenFanJamm
            22nd February 2011, 11:50

            Yeah, I realise the irony of that last sentence ;)

          2. It’s much better than some non-Tilke tracks, too.

  16. Seems like for political reason & money some time in the near future F1 will disappear like the Dinosaur did millions of years ago.

  17. They need more races in Europe, the U.S., and South America.

  18. Or maybe the UK student riots again.

  19. Obviously, the Australian government just has to start shooting some of its citizens. Problem solved!

  20. Just heard about a major bad news from NZ. An earthquake again! Man whats up with ANZ & southern hemisphere as a whole these days? Fires,floods,droughts,earthquakes,volcano & what not? The entire hemisphere seems to be pretty screwed up :(

    Just pray for the safety of fellow F1F’s from NZ, I know Hare is from there. Hope you are fine mate.

    1. Second that !

    2. +1.. hope hare and all the other kiwis are ok

      1. actually he just commented.. so i guess he is

    3. +1 Take care Hare, and all other NZs!

      Isn’t that last comment from him a couple of hours back AUS_Steve?

      1. Hey guys thanks for the comments! im heading down to chch to lend a hand on monday so we will see how it goes.

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