Melbourne happy with second event slot
|By Jonathan Noble
||Monday, March 29th 2010, 09:38 GMT
Australian Grand Prix chiefs are now happy to accept their race not regaining its season opener status, because of the television audience boost its 5pm start time has given it.
The event at Albert Park had traditionally been the first of the campaign, but it was replaced by Bahrain this season because it could not be pulled earlier than the March 28 date when clocks change in Europe.
Although losing the status as the first race of the season could be viewed by some as lessening the impact of the event, Melbourne chiefs believe the positives that come from having the race on at 7am in Britain and 8am in Europe are much better.
Furthermore, its 5pm local start time also opens up the possibility of being shown at a better time in other markets - including China and Russia.
Australian Grand Prix promoter Ron Walker said: "It suits us fine because of the daylight saving change in Europe. Now we have got this timeframe, we go into these big markets in a reasonable time and you can only do that because of daylight saving change."
Melbourne bosses also expect negotiations to extend its current contract, which runs out in 2015, to begin in the next two or three years.
Walker dismissed rumours at the weekend that an attempt by Sydney to try and snatch the race away was a serious threat to the state of Victoria.
"For more than a decade this state has being going around the world getting events in silence, and once they have got the event signed up they then announce it," he explained. "How do you go about getting an event, announcing what you are going to do to your competitors and then think you are going to get it? It just doesn't work that way."
Victorian premier John Brumby said about the Sydney speculation: "They won't be successful. It highlights the value of this event. For the people who say that this is not a great event for the state, or that it costs too much money or any of the other criticisms that are sometimes made, the test is in the global demand of F1.
"Sydney has come out today and said that it will do anything to pinch the event, and there are so many other countries around the world that would also kill to do so. They really want this event – and they would write a big cheque to get it.
"Those critics [of this event] need to look around and see how many other people around the world want this event. Sydney wants this event but won't get it. We are signed until 2014/2015, it is a great event here, the drivers love it, the crews love it, the people who come to our city love it and people like John Travolta love it because Melbourne is one of the great cities in the world. We have got the event secured."