Alternating Australian GP idea squashed

Sebastian Vettel at the Australian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel at the Australian Grand Prix

Reports that Melbourne’s Australian Grand Prix could alternate year to year with another state have been squashed by AGPC chairman Ron Walker.

Various news outlets reported that the Albert Park race could share the Grand Prix with other venues, namely Sydney or Perth, similar to the current concept used by the German Grand Prix (Hockenheim and Nurburgring).

Walker slammed the idea of sharing the Grand Prix with a rival state.

“I believe it’s absolute nonsense to think that we’ll share it, year on year out,” Walker told assembled press.

“It took years and years to get this event to Melbourne. Why would we want to share anything with anybody?

“There’s a lot of people that would like to take things off us, but they don’t get up early enough in other states.”

Victorian premier Ted Baillieu echoed Walker’s thoughts, suggesting that cost would prohibit the option.

“The notion of having two tracks to maintain and two groups of employees to hire, let alone the fact that Melbourne is the one that has the track and, the track record. I don’t think that’s a proposition at all,” Baillieu said.

“Anybody who has had a look at it would understand that it doesn’t work and it’s not something that is not being pursued, as I understand it in anyway. That has been the view expressed before.”

Walker also rubbished the notion of taking the Grand Prix to a permanent circuit in Victoria.

“There’s a number of people who suggested that the government builds a permanent track. If you do that, the silhouette of the city, which is a great advertisement, would merely be a haze in the distance,” Walker said.

“I think we are doing very well in the way we are.”

Melbourne has the rights to host the Grand Prix until 2015, and despite its critics, Baillieu says that he sees no change to that arrangement.

“We will look at the Grand Prix as a value for money proposition. We have a further three Grand Prix in our contract after this one, and that’s the way we will consider it,” Baillieu said

“What I’ve been pleased about is that the Grand Prix Corporation have been prepared to keep looking at the event beyond the race itself.”

This year’s Formula 1 race has been regarded as one of the most popular for years, with a four-day estimated attendance of 313,700, including 114,900 on race day. These figures compare favourably to 2011, with close to 4000 more people quoted by organisers as attending.

The increased spectator numbers could also be partly attributed to the race being held outside of the AFL season.

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