Ecclestone offers to 'help' for Melbourne night race
1 March 2012 – Bernie Ecclestone claims the Australian Grand Prix is ‘probably’ the least practical, in terms of profitability, of all the races on the current Formula 1 calendar. However, the FOM head has offered to assist if organisers convert their event into a night race.
Although those running the race have a contract until 2015 and argue that the Australian Grand Prix is critical for tourism, pressure from taxpayers and the State of Victoria is still mounting, with the F1 event currently making annual losses of 50 million Australian dollars (£33.8m).
With this in mind, Ecclestone believes a possible dropping of the event – F1’s season-opener for 14 of the last 16 years – is highly possible.
“If we were having a divorce from our friends in Melbourne, we would probably be walking away from Australia,” he told journalists on Thursday. “I can't see how Adelaide could make it happen, or anywhere else, if Melbourne can't. The race itself is probably the least viable of all the races we have.”
The 81-year-old added that financial assistance could be made available, should Australia wish to follow in the footsteps of Singapore by becoming a nighttime Grand Prix, thus granting his long-term wish of catering more for European television audiences.
“We would have a look, maybe we could help subsidise that a little bit,” he continued. “Up until 2015, we're in good shape. After then, I really don't know.”
Including the current Albert Park race which made its debut in 1996, Australia has hosted a Formula 1 event since the Adelaide street circuit first appeared in 1985. The 2012 campaign begins in Melbourne on 18 March.