You know it’s March in Melbourne when talk about the Australian Grand Prix’s future is on the front page of the two major newspapers.
It happens every single year. In 2011 Mayor of Melbourne Robert Doyle said that the event should be dumped due to the rising costs, which are expected to reach $55 million this year.
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has offered to ditch the deal with the Victorian Government to hold the worldwide event at Albert Park until 2015.
It’s common knowledge that the 81-year-old wants the event to be held at night, like the Singapore GP, to offer a better spectacle and also a better timeslot to viewers in Europe.
The race cost Victorian taxpayers $50 million in 2011, while only bringing in an estimated $39 million. This is compared to the $1.7 million it cost Victorians to stage the event when it was poached by current AGP chairman Ron Walker and the Victorian government from Adelaide in 1996, just days after the South Australian election.
It’s time to make a decision about this event. I believe I am in the minority but I think Melbourne should keep the Grand Prix.
Victorian Premier Ted Bailleu says he wants to re-negotiate the deal, despite the Australian Grand Prix Corporation previously being told not to hold their breath, however he will not be taking ‘an open chequebook’ into the negotiations, a government spokesman said.
This event is a major part of Melbourne, and the world’s sporting landscape and could damage Melbourne’s reputation as arguably the sporting capital of the world. Melbourne is the only city in the world to host a tennis Grand Slam and grand prix. I personally hope that this does not change.
Formula One now has two Australian drivers in Daniel Ricciardo and Mark Webber competing for championship points. There is nothing those two would want more than to win a race on their home soil, something other drivers would not get to achieve.
Victorians often complain about Victoria being a ‘nanny state’, and in particular after Lewis Hamilton was fined for hooning during the 2010 AGP. Wouldn’t it make us a more nanny state if we ditched this event and did what The Herald Sun readers want judging by their comments: “Bernie can take his money and go. We need to spend more on schools and hospitals.”
You couldn’t overestimate how much the ‘Save Albert Park’ group would love that.
Let’s hope for a good race that can rekindle Melbourne’s love of motorsport later on this month.