AGP to host Supercars championship round in 2018
Supercars will race for championship points at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix for the first time next year.
Australia’s premier series has long been keen to establish a points paying round at Albert Park having been restricted to non-championship events.
It has also been confirmed alongside a new six-year deal that will see Supercars at Albert Park until at least 2023.
Previous attempts to upgrade its status on the support bill have fallen flat after failing to gain approval by Formula 1’s owners.
However, the sport’s new custodians Liberty Media have proven more open to the idea as they bid to increase the fan appeal of F1 events all over the world.
Positive discussions between F1, Supercars and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation during this year’s event have resulted in a championship round next year.
Supercars has held 21 non-championship events at Albert Park since 1996.
Australian Grand Prix Corporation chief executive Andrew Westacott believes the addition of championship points for Supercars will benefit the event.
“I’m thrilled,” Westacott told Speedcafe.com.
“I definitely hope it does boost crowds. I think people have always said that it should be a championship round.
“We are not doing it as a direct reason that it will boost crowd but because we think it will add to the fan experience and if more people come along as a result then that’s great.
“This is really important along with all the other things we are going to continue to do next year.
“We have been talking to Formula 1 for years and years about this and what happens often when you get new fresh ways of looking at things, its often a catalyst for things to be finalised.
“It has been top of the agenda for many years, we’ve been able to get it mutually agreed. We are very pleased to make it happen.”
Supercars CEO, James Warburton, was delighted to confirm the sport had extended its deal to continue at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix as a Supercars Championship round for a further six years until 2023.
“This fantastic opportunity to host championship races at the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit will further showcase Supercars on the world-stage,” Warburton said.
“I am delighted to say that thanks to the hard work and perseverance of the AGPC, and the foresight of Formula 1, it is now a reality.
“A Championship round and the six-year contract extension through to 2023 will be warmly received by our fans and add a new dimension to the event.”
Race formats are yet to be confirmed although Speedcafe.com understands 30-60 minute heats are likely.
In previous years four 30 minute sprint races have been held on each day of the event.
“It is still got to be worked out. The races formats will be determined and finalised in the coming months,” he added.
“The Formula 1 sessions are locked. We have to work around them and we can’t do anything to delay an international broadcast.
“We have got be very mindful that the scheduling the races is done to maximise the experience for championship points and there is no impact to F1 sessions.
“I think somewhere between 30 minute or 60 minute races. They will be substantial races and Supercars will be across four days of the event.”