Australian GP contract extended

After months of speculation about the future of the Australian Grand Prix, officials have announced that they have secured a new deal which will see Melbourne on the F1 calendar until at least 2015.

Much of Melbourne s problems have stemmed from Bernie Ecclestone s demand that the Australian Grand Prix must become a night race if it wished to remain as an F1 host. The rationale behind the demand was to accommodate European viewers.

The two parties have agreed on a compromise the race start has been pushed back to 5pm local time, a time which is more friendly to both European and Asian audiences. The start also means that Melbourne organisers will not have to fork out money on artificial lighting for the track.With the compromise reached, Ecclestone has agreed to extend the current contract to 2015.

“The Australian Grand Prix has always been a great show, with some of the biggest crowds in Formula One,” Ecclestone commented. “I have wanted changes to the local race time so that we can increase the television audience in Europe and Asia.

“I’m satisfied that the decision to move to a later start time for 2009 races is a win for television audiences in Europe and Asia, a win for Melbourne and a win for Formula One as a whole.”

Victoria state Premier John Brumby said, “Today’s announcement confirms what every Melburnian knows – we live in the undisputed major events capital of the world.

“The Grand Prix has been an outstanding event for Victoria over a long period of time and has helped put Melbourne on a global stage. Retaining the event is important to Victoria’s ongoing growth and prosperity. Our year round calendar of sporting and cultural events draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to our wonderful city every year.

“The Grand Prix brings big spending tourists, creates employment and business opportunities and provides Victorians with another opportunity to enjoy world-class entertainment in their own capital city. The massive television exposure that Melbourne receives year in year out has helped build our world-wide reputation as a great place to visit and a great place to live.

“Next year’s later start time will mean even greater TV audiences in the United Kingdom, Asia and European markets which means more exposure for brand “Melbourne” than ever before.”