Australian GP boss unsurprised by Sydney F1 bid
By Mat Coch
Friday 22nd October, 2021 - 1:00pm
Australian Grand Prix boss Andrew Westacott has admitted he’s not surprised the New South Wales Government is discussing a possible bid to host Formula 1 from 2026.
Reports yesterday claimed ‘high level’ discussions were taking place within the NSW Government regarding hosting the race around The Rocks, in the north of the Sydney CBD.
Victoria currently holds a contract with Formula 1 to host the event until 2025, with Westacott confident of an extension beyond the existing deal.
“I am not surprised that stories like this come out every probably three or four years,” Westacott, CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, told Speedcafe.com.
“They’re often in the lead up to either an election or, or a leadership change in the New South Wales Government, and it comes about because mega sporting series like Formula 1 are few and far between.
“When you talk about sort of the tier one events globally, you’re talking about FIFA World Cup soccer tournaments, Olympic Games, and Formula 1, and Formula 1 has it over the others in terms of it being a recurrent series of say 20 to 23 rounds a year, every year.
“For a Formula 1 event to be staged in your city, you get that year-round major event benefit, whereas a Commonwealth Games for $2 billion dollars goes to a location once, an Olympic Games for $5 or $6 billion goes once.
“Brisbane has got, and Queensland has got those events covered. We’ve got the Australian Open in the Grand Slam [tennis] status and also Formula 1 and the grand prix as well as lots of others.
“[So it’s] Probably not surprising New South Wales think that they need to have some events.”
For the project to proceed, it would need the involvement of Motorsport Australia, which Speedcafe.com understands has not been engaged.
It is not the first time a race around the Sydney CBD, and more specifically The Rocks, has been touted with a similar proposal was put forward in the early 1980s.
Westacott meanwhile is confident the event will remain in Albert Park, noting a relationship between organisers and the sport which stretches back more than two decades.
“Formula 1 will, as you’ve seen, look to expand their wings,” he said.
“Now I’m not for one minute suggesting that Formula 1 is looking to expand their wings [in Australia] because they don’t need to.
“They’ve got a willing partner in the Australian Grand Prix Corporation who’s worked with them for 24 years.
“But the great thing about what they’re doing globally and in the region, is that they have got a very, very strong product and these new events coming on the calendar, in Qatar and also Miami, and therefore locations around the world see that it brings benefit to your city from a profile point of view and a tourism point of view.
“We’ve got lots of strong components of the current a) contract, and b) relationship that we have with Formula 1,” Westacott added when asked if there were right of refusal clauses in the current contract over prospective new deals.
“I’ve been asked, ‘well, when do you start negotiating and talking about the future?’
“Essentially, my view on that, and the view of Formula 1 is, you start talking about the future immediately after you sign the original and current agreement.
“We’re always looking to the future. There’s a desire for Formula 1 to stay in Melbourne and there’s a desire from the Grand Prix Corporation and the Victorian Government for Formula 1 to stay in Melbourne.
“There’s two willing partners there, and the future is rosy, and I’ll tell you what, that future starts in 2022 because we’ve made a $20 million dollar investment in the track modifications.
“It would have been three years since we’ve had a Grand Prix in Melbourne, where the Formula One cars have been on the track, and there’ll be 2022-spec cars, so it’s all positive and upbeat.
“There’s no negativity associated with Formula 1 and what we’re doing at the moment.”
A spokesperson for Formula 1 refused to comment on the matter when contacted by Speedcafe.com.