F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone Says He Wants To Keep Australian Grand Prix In Melbourne
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "has offered to sign a contract 10 times longer than usual to keep" the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne's Albert Park, according to Peter Rolfe of the HERALD SUN. Ecclestone said, "We hope we're going to be in Melbourne forever, although we do get a bit of criticism and I don't know why. We're happy with Melbourne, and I'd be happy to sign a 50-year contract." The Grand Prix Corp. said Ecclestone's wish to have the race at Albert Park for another 50 years was a "wonderful sentiment," but it didn't mean Melbourne could take it for granted. With the Australian Grand Prix contract to expire in '15, Ecclestone said that "he intended to travel to Melbourne for the first time in eight years to kick-start negotiations before next month's race." But, in an apparent snub of the State Government, he said that "he would talk only" to Grand Prix Chair Ron Walker. Ecclestone said, "The only person I deal with is Ron Walker." In an exclusive interview, Ecclestone also revealed that "other states had contacted him trying to snatch the race from Victoria when the current contract expired." But he said that he was "determined to keep the event in Melbourne" (HERALD SUN, 2/26). AUTOSPORT's Sam Tremayne Ecclestone also "played down the significance of growing complaints about the cost of the race" after an Australian newspaper revealed the hosting fee was more than £20M ($30.3M) per year. Asked what the fee secured, Ecclestone said: "To get a Formula 1 event, the same as anyone else in the world. Melbourne probably doesn't need to be put on the map, but that's what Formula 1 does for a city: it gets an awful lot more worldwide television coverage than other events Melbourne has." He added: "Whenever these sorts of things happen, I'm told don't be silly about that, it's just one or two people making noise" (AUTOSPORT, 2/26).