The Albert Park Supercars round is just a big waste of time

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    Should Supercars really race at Albert Park, or could they spend their time doing more beneficial and productive races? Image: Red Bull Racing.

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    The Formula One Grand Prix, staged at Albert Park in Melbourne each year, is one of the biggest Motorsport events in Australia and the Supercars have been a part of the weekend since 1985, when it was still held in Adelaide – but is it time for the relationship to come to an end?

    The non-championship round might be an opportunity for the Supercars to push their brand into a different type of fans – casual sports fans and diehard motorsport fans from around the world – but is it doing so at the detriment of their own championship?

    There is no question the Supercars have pushed to have the round included in the championship before, but thanks to the Formula One’s non-negotiable policy on support races, the Supercars can’t get themselves more than half an hour on track.

    While other smaller categories in Australia do have championship rounds at the Formula One Grand Prix – the Australian GT series springing to mind – the Supercars don’t and with good reason.

    Running four half-hour races – or 12 laps that are just 64 kilometres in distance – simply doesn’t cut it to be an official round of Australia’s premier racing category.

    While it can’t be an official round and never will be while Formula One’s current regulations stay in place, the contract for the Supercars to run at Albert Park expires in 2018, and it’s time to think about whether the category really needs to be running as a support race.

    There are plenty of factors to take into account and as we have mentioned, the potential increase in support and awareness for the category among Australian casual sports fans must be at the top of the tree.

    The Holden Racing Team Holden Commodore

    In the same breath, there are issues with that. Casual sports fans are generally going to tune in for the race on Sunday afternoon – not spend three days in front of the TV with motorsport on while there is the NRL, AFL and Super Rugby seasons getting underway.

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    While you might be able to attract some more diehard motorsport fans to the category, even that won’t work given the overseas coverage of the Supercars is limited in nature and most fans in Australia are already going to watch and support it.

    So, with the potential for new fans and support for the category limited, it’s hard to find many advantages of putting the season on hold and losing the momentum generated by the Clipsal 500 for a romp at Albert Park.

    The problem is, there is nothing wrong with the Albert Park circuit. It’s a good racing track, as demonstrated by the Formula One race being there for over a decade, and the Supercars have had some decent battles there.

    But the cost of racing as a support event, the risk of crashing and having further costs associated and putting the championship on hold just doesn’t add up to running at Albert Park anymore unless it’s a full championship round with proper race distances.

    Given that’s not going to happen as a support race, maybe it’s time to investigate adding Albert Park as a round of the championship with longer races and the weekend to themselves.

    There are problems with that, because it does mean there would be three races in Melbourne and while New South Wales also has that number, they are well spread out with one in Newcastle, one in Bathurst and the other at Eastern Creek.

    The three races in Melbourne are all relatively close to the CBD and don’t have the appeal of a Bathurst event to draw spectators from far and wide, meaning it could severely limit crowds across all three events, drawing a hit to Supercars that don’t want, nor can they afford in the current situation.

    Where to now for V8 Supercars in Australia and motorsport in general? Image: Volvo Polestar

    More races in Australia to fill the gap left by Albert Park, and not only that but bring more races into the Championship don’t appear to have the greatest possibility of happening.

    There aren’t many tracks left to add, although the return of the Canberra street race would be something worth looking into.

    Street races have been the category’s saviour in recent seasons, with the Clipsal 500 and Townsville races among the most supported outside of Bathurst, so Canberra – which was a dynamic track could well leave an option to replace Albert Park directly – on the weekend either before or after the Formula One Grand Prix could work well.

    The other option that has been talked about – and this isn’t to replace Albert Park in any way as the Supercars haven’t detailed their plans regarding the future of the support event yet – but they have certainly explored overseas.

    Before legal issues got in the way, there were supposed to be races in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia this season, but none found their way on to the eventual calendar.

    If three overseas races were to be added – something I have written about before – it would not only replace Albert Park and imply more emphasis on the Championship, but close the gap between races which is currently far too long.

    The gap between races is one of the key detriments to the championship, so an overseas tour in place of a non-Championship hit and giggle round would be a step in the right direction.

    Whether it happens or not is still up in the air, but what’s clear is there should be no Supercars exhibition race at Albert Park.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • Roar Guru

      February 23rd 2017 @ 6:19am
      Bayden Westerweller said | February 23rd 2017 @ 6:19am | ! Report

      Well said Scott. Supercars’ presence at Albert Park amounts more to a chance for global fans to meet the identities rather than seeing them in the thick of action.

      It’s hard to really embrace the concept without any points on the line, there’s no context. The off chance that Liberty Media could be more receptive to a championship event is something which could yet come to pass.

      • Roar Guru

        February 23rd 2017 @ 9:59am
        Scott Pryde said | February 23rd 2017 @ 9:59am | ! Report

        Cheers Bayden,

        Agree with all that 100%. A championship round might add interest, but even then it’s time to explore other options, and with all these international events on the table next season – that’s where it’s going to come from.

        • Roar Guru

          February 23rd 2017 @ 8:42pm
          Bayden Westerweller said | February 23rd 2017 @ 8:42pm | ! Report

          If Supercars’ calendar expands and the AGP doesn’t budge on championship status, it certainly is first in line for the axe.

      • March 27th 2017 @ 9:31pm
        Jay said | March 27th 2017 @ 9:31pm | ! Report

        “V8 supercars” are a waste of time! lol

        Then again, it keeps the rednecks all in the same place, fenced in where they belong. Just unfortunate to infect a Formula1 Grand Prix location with knuckle draggers.

    • Roar Pro

      February 23rd 2017 @ 9:09am
      Naveen J Razik said | February 23rd 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      I think the main issue is that the Albert Park support bill is too busy. F1, V8s, Aus GT, a whole load of other categories and demo events. You could try and cut down everything just to F1, V8s and Aus GT.

      The other issue is that these races aren’t part of the broadcast package for Formula 1 overseas, so the international exposure is very limited. Because of that the benefits feel more limited.

      Given that overseas support categories have managed to get one hour slots on the F1 Support bill, I think the organisers need to think about emphasising quality over quantity. The event would work much better with longer races and pit stops – they have had their own pit building since 2010, so it’d be pretty easy to manage.

      Maybe turn the non-championship event into a bigger spectacle – how about an All-Star Race – Run with a few different rules, maybe allow a few international wildcards in the race. NASCAR run their all-star race pretty well, and its non championship event.

      • Roar Guru

        February 23rd 2017 @ 10:01am
        Scott Pryde said | February 23rd 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

        Good thoughts there Naveen – certainly, the F1 is a stacked weekend.

        My understanding was that the V8’s actually were broadcast overseas at the Albert Park Rd, but I could be wrong there.

        Not a bad idea about the All-Star concept, but that’s going to take a lot of leg work to get it off the ground.

        • Roar Pro

          February 23rd 2017 @ 6:48pm
          Naveen J Razik said | February 23rd 2017 @ 6:48pm | ! Report

          Supercars has the broadcast deals in place, but most of them aren’t with the same networks who show F1. Because of that, F1 can’t produce a good lead in for viewers into the V8 race. Also Supercars doesn’t have a huge amount of live TV coverage internationally, mostly streaming on SuperView. If Liberty Media is willing to put the support races on the same deal as the F1 rights I think we’ll see some good exposure.

    • February 23rd 2017 @ 9:57am
      Brad said | February 23rd 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

      Not super sure on the logic that albert park is a waste of money but 3 overseas races, surely this would be terrible for the smaller teams that its not just a semi driving from one place to another

      • Roar Guru

        February 23rd 2017 @ 10:02am
        Scott Pryde said | February 23rd 2017 @ 10:02am | ! Report

        What makes you believe Albert Park isn’t a waste of money – as well as effort and time?

        The long term profit for going overseas should come back as a gain, even if it’s a bit painful short time. I’m not in on the payment structure, but my assumption is that Supercars would help the teams get over and back financially.

    • Roar Guru

      February 23rd 2017 @ 1:08pm
      Jawad Yaqub said | February 23rd 2017 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

      You ask the teams and they’ll definitely say that it’s a tight affair financially, especially with the turn around between Clipsal and Symmons Plains which is not long after the Grand Prix. As much as it’s a showcase, the teams and drivers have to risk less due to the fact they won’t want to be caught out in the recovery for their second championship round.

      I’ve long been a believer if F1’s commercial rights holder approves of the Supercars round to become a championship points scoring round, then it would be worth going. Otherwise it’s easily replaced by something more relevant like Formula 4 (how is that not already on the roster?!).

    • February 23rd 2017 @ 8:10pm
      Garry Edwards said | February 23rd 2017 @ 8:10pm | ! Report

      The farce at Albert Park, V8SC’s that’s all it is…. no points awarded, no mongrel exhibited and above all else no ones really interested because of the F1 and well it’s only…….
      I remember when I visited Albert Park and got the “guff”. Quote: We view Albert Park as an extension of our initial practice day but, under race conditions, prior to a full blown assault for the SC championship, it’s the opportunity to further reaffirm and consolidate technical enhancements previously trialled, being mindful not to damage the car. It also offers the opportunity for pit crews to realise the potentiality for hiccups and minimise pit time. End quote.
      Lets face it no-one goes out to with any real mongrel in them at Albert Park the turnaround time has already been mentioned and the SC season is just sorting itself out and people go to watch the F1 circus it only comes to town once per year. it’s exciting, it’s loud, it’s……. f**k! it’s great and, it’s future is not guaranteed so lets go watch it.
      The V8’s come on to play and everybody flees getting autographs, photo’s, going for a wee, maybe in queue for a cup of chips and or talking to some mates or new found friends, their paying customers true but, not viewing customers and there’s a lot of ’em.
      V8SC’s will never break into F1 territory so like all good rats do flee the sinking ship and find new ground.

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