Australian GP secures new deal

Australian Grand Prix officials have secured a new deal to keep the race in Melbourne until 2015, ending months of speculation about the future of the event

Australian GP secures new deal

Doubts had been cast about whether Melbourne would remain on the F1 calendar, with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone making it clear that he wanted a night race if Australia was to keep hold of a slot.

However, a compromise settlement was reached with the race now due to start at 5pm local time - and that was enough for Ecclestone to commit to an extended contract.

"The Australian Grand Prix has always been a great show, with some of the biggest crowds in Formula One," said Ecclestone.

"I have wanted changes to the local race time so that we can increase the television audience in Europe and Asia.

"I'm satisfied that the decision to move to a later start time for 2009 races is a win for television audiences in Europe and Asia, a win for Melbourne and a win for Formula One as a whole."

Victoria state Premier John Brumby: "Today's announcement confirms what every Melburnian knows - we live in the undisputed major events capital of the world.

"The Grand Prix has been an outstanding event for Victoria over a long period of time and has helped put Melbourne on a global stage. Retaining the event is important to Victoria's ongoing growth and prosperity.

"Our year round calendar of sporting and cultural events draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to our wonderful city every year."

The 5pm start time also comes with an agreement from Ecclestone that Melbourne officials will not have to erect artificial lighting for the duration of their contract.

Brumby also said that the commitment for a new deal makes financial sense for the state - even though it is a big money layout to host the race.

"The Grand Prix brings big spending tourists, creates employment and business opportunities and provides Victorians with another opportunity to enjoy world-class entertainment in their own capital city," he explained.

"The massive television exposure that Melbourne receives year in year out has helped build our world-wide reputation as a great place to visit and a great place to live.
"Next year's later start time will mean even greater TV audiences in the United Kingdom, Asia and European markets which means more exposure for brand "Melbourne" than ever before."

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