The future of the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix is reportedly in doubt once again, as Victoria’s state government delays the signing of a new deal beyond 2015.
With Victoria’s state election around four months away, News Corp reports that Victorians may go to the polls before a new deal has been signed; if a new deal is signed at all.
It is unclear at this stage whether the current state government in Victoria will commit the additional funds required to stage the event beyond 2015, which is understood to be several million dollars.
The government risks offending the race's supporters in not signing a renewed contract. But there is also a significant block who believe the cost to taxpayers has become excessive and signing a new agreement could come with political risks for a government facing a knife-edge poll.
In an election year, Premier Dennis Napthine's Liberal/National coalition could find itself in a ‘no-win’ situation, and may choose a ‘damage control’ approach by holding off on a new deal until after November - if re-elected.
“We still have next year’s race to run so the time factor is not pressing at this stage,” Victoria’s Major Events Minister, Louise Asher, said.
“These things, of course, take time and the government is determined to get the very best deal possible for Victoria.’’
Aside from offending race fans and those who believe the race benefits Victoria, the state government is risking up to $33 million in economic benefits, according to a 2011 Ernst & Young report.
The same report also estimates the race creates the equivalent of between 351 and 411 full-time jobs, which would be lost if the event is discontinued beyond 2015.
News Corp also reports that the 2015 Australian F1 Grand Prix is scheduled for March 12-15, during a weekend that sees no Cricket World Cup matches (which Australia is hosting) in Melbourne.
MORE: F1 news, Victoria news