Steane Klose | Feb 4, 2008

The future of the Australian Formula One GP looks to be in doubt, either that or Bernie Ecclestone is painting a grim picture for the Melbourne based GP in order to keep himself on the front foot in the coming negotiations. According to Eccelstone, F1 isn’t even sure it wants to be in Australia and the lure of bright lights from bigger cities such as those in Russia, China and Korea may be too much to ignore.

“Maybe we don’t want to be in Australia. Our costs are very high in Australia and we get a lot less money. It’s bloody bad for us. We’ve got quite a few places on the list which would like to have formula one and as it seems your guy down there doesn’t want formula one, we can make him happy and make the other people happy,” said Eccelstone.

Rising costs and falling revenues have been behind the recent call for the Australian GP to be held at night, a simple solution to increasing the European audience for the live TV coverage of the event. Victoria’s minister for tourism, Tim Holding has indicated that Victoria would only commit to the ongoing hosting of the F1 GP if it continued to represent value for money and was in Melbourne’s best interest and that a night event was not a consideration due to the added cost.

Despite being the world’s best attended F1 GP, a report by Victoria's Auditor-General has indicated that costs exceeded benefits by between $800,000 and $13.4 million, after consideration was given to social and environmental issues such as noise and traffic jams. Figures can be manipulated to serve any purpose, however if the Auditor General’s are somewhere close to the mark, then its difficult to see where the value has been in hosting the F1 GP in any year.

According to Grand Prix Chairman Ron Walker, Eccelstone is just being the brilliant businessman that he is and setting the stage for a new round of negotiations with the Victorian government. It sounds more like he is trying to let us down, not so gently.

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