NSW Premier reaffirms Sydney’s F1 interest
By Mat Coch
Thursday 2nd December, 2021 - 3:27pm
New South Wales Premier, Dominic Perrottet, has reaffirmed his government’s interest in tempting Formula 1 from Victoria.
In October, it was reported that “high level” discussions were taking place with regard to making a bid for the race beyond the end of its current contract – which keeps it at Albert Park until at least 2025.
Perrottet today underscored his interest in the event as part of a major events push in the country’s most populous state.
“We’ve got the greatest cities in not just the country, but the world,” Perrottet said of NSW.
“And seriously, why would the Formula 1 want to stay in Melbourne when you can come here?
“So we think we’re going to have a fighting chance to bring that event here.
“But it’s not just the Formula 1, it’s major events right across the country and across the world that we’re going after.”
In June, a $200 million event fund was launched with the stated aim of putting “NSW in pole position to secure major events”.
While it has been reported the Australian Grand Prix costs Victorian taxpayers $30 million to host, the reality is it’s far more expensive once construction and other costs associated with running the event are considered.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Venues NSW chairman Tony Stewart claimed Sydney would be an ideal host for the Australian Grand Prix, but that it would only be one part of a broader offering.
“Our goal at Venues NSW is to have a major event in the state every month,” he said.
“The idea is to fill up the year so that every month people have something to look forward to.
“It would be a great ambition to hold a major event every month that would appeal to local and international visitors.
“With the venues we have now, particularly with an opening and closing roof on Stadium Australia, we could have acts such as Adele coming over to perform in the winter months when we are quiet.”
There is no suggestion that Formula 1 has an appetite to leave Albert Park, nor from the Victorian Government to relinquish the event.
Australian GP boss Andrew Westacott has previously scoffed at the concept, noting the event’s place within Melbourne’s broader events industry, which includes the Melbourne Cup, Boxing Day test and, usually, the AFL Grand Final.
Formula 1 has recently added a second event in the United States, the Miami Grand Prix to debut in 2022, amid a growing trend away from nationally focused races.
That’s seen the Brazilian Grand Prix transformed into the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, while others with a local focus include Mexico City, Abu Dhabi, and Emilia Romagna Grands Prix.
For the most part, the change has been in recognition of the funding for the event, and adding value to the local economy, though in other instances it’s purely a practical consideration given a national event name has already been used.
However, Westacott affirmed that rebranding the event to the ‘Melbourne Grand Prix’ or similar was not on the cards.
“We’re unashamedly Melbourne, but we’re also very proudly Australian – it is the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“The people from Motorsport Australia, who are officiating at the event, come from far and wide.
“I think it’s a celebration of everything that’s great about Australia.
“We love the fact that Mark [Webber] came from Queanbeyan, that Daniel Ricciardo comes from Perth.
“Even though we’re an event that domiciled in Melbourne, we’ve never had discussions about doing anything other than proudly branding as the Australian Grand Prix.
“I think everyone knows that the rightful home of Formula 1 racing is Melbourne, and that gives us the signs that we see on the track, a branding of Melbourne, the sign of the back of the podium is branding Australia.
“I think what it also does is, when internationals come to visit out event in the past, they’ve visited the event and then they’ve gone around Australia.
“So there is a benefit for visitation to the country, but most of the time is also spent in Victoria and we’ve got to do more and more to promote that opportunity.”
Australia has come close to hosting two Formula 1 events previously.
Having won the rights to host the Australian Grand Prix from 1997, Melbourne was initially set to host the Pacific Grand Prix in 1996.
However, it was recognised at that point that the country could not support two F1 races, and organisers in South Australia pragmatically relinquished the event a year early in an effort to recoup the cost of assets by selling them on to Victoria.
The popularity of the event in Melbourne remains strong, with officials revealing to Speedcafe.com last week that early demand has prompted the construction of more grandstands.
General admission tickets went on sale today.
The 2022 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, Round 3 of the season, takes place on April 7-10.