Aus GP rules out night race

Australian Grand Prix organisers have ruled out the possibility of a night race despite further pressure from F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone today.

The licence to hold the race expires in 2010 and doubt has been cast over the future of the event which continues to run at an operating loss.

Ecclestone has said today, not for the first time, that the only hope of Melbourne hanging onto the Grand Prix is if it switches to a night race to accomodate European viewers.

“The only way the race could stay in Melbourne, or anywhere else in Australia, is if it is staged during the night so that the public in Europe can watch it,” Ecclestone told The Mail on Sunday.

“At the moment, it is ridiculous that people are asked not to sleep in order to see it live. That can t carry on.”

Organisers have today ruled out the possibility of a night race leaving the future of the Australian Grand Prix hanging in the balance.

Drew Ward, the CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation told Autosport that the decision to move the start time of the grand prix back to 3.30pm would be enough to hold on to the grand prix.

“In the present circumstances, the Victorian Government has ruled out a night race. What we have done this year is changed the F1 race time to later on the Sunday afternoon,” ward told Autosport.

“It is a 3.30 pm race start, which will tie in a little better with the broadcast timing to the European timezone. It would not surprise me if we looked at that again for 2009.

“We think it is a sensible compromise, we think it works on both sides – it works for the broadcast audience and it works for the spectator attending the event. We think it is a launch pad for doing other things in the future.”