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Mike Stevens | Aug, 04 2014 | 0 Comments

Melbourne will continue to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix event through to at least 2020, the state’s Coalition Government has confirmed this week.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said the new contract, signed in London last week, was the result of 12 months of negotiations.

The news, which comes just four months before the next state election, follows reports in past weeks that the event’s future was again in doubt.

Today, Dr Napthine described Formula 1 as a “key pillar” of Victoria’s sporting events strategy, which he said is “unrivalled worldwide”.

“[This calendar commences with] the Australian Tennis Open and Asian Football Cup in January, followed by the ICC Cricket World Cup in February, the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix in March, the AFL Final Series, and the Spring Racing Carnival," he said.

"Regional Victoria is also prominent on the world stage with events such as the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island, the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach and the recently secured Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race early next year.”

Dr Napthine said the state’s major events programme generates around 3500 jobs and contributes $1.4 billion to the Victorian economy annually, with the F1 alone making up 351 to 411 “full-time equivalent” jobs and $75 to 80 million in economic benefits.

F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone said: "I congratulate Melbourne for the excellent way in which it presents Formula One to the world."

Next year’s Australian F1 Grand Prix will mark 20 years of the great race in Melbourne, after the Kennett government and businessman Ron Walker - still now the organising body’s chairman - famously wrested the event away from Adelaide.

The 2015 Australian F1 Grand Prix is expected to occur over the weekend of March 12-15.

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