The Australian Grand Prix extends its current contract to 2020
Following on from the news that Mexico will return to the F1 calendar in 2015 and that Azerbaijan will host a street race in Baku in 2016, it has been announced that Melbourne will host the Australian GP until 2020.
Albert Park’s place on the calendar had appeared to be in doubt earlier this year as the Victoria government went through its usual debate as to whether the race represented value for money for the state’s taxpayers.
And Bernie Ecclestone stirred up Ron Walker, the race’s promoter and his long-time ally, to threaten not to renew the contract because of his dissatisfaction with the sound produced by the new F1 cars. Unsurprisingly, that turned out to be mere sabre rattling.
Australia’s new contract will come as welcome news to all within F1, for the race is one of the most popular on the calendar. It is expected, although not certain, that it will remain the season-opener, a tradition it has held in all but two seasons since it took over from Adelaide in 1996. But it raises questions about the length of the F1 calendar in the future.
In theory, the season is limited to 20 races. But adding Mexico and Azerbaijan to the current list of 19, most of which have longterm contracts, makes it 21 by 2016. And the teams want more races in North America, ideally with events on the east and west coasts in addition to the current two in Montréal and Austin.
Race promoter Ron Walker: no fan of current engine sound