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The Bahrain Grand Prix may have brought Formula One into the media spotlight like never before but this isn't necessarily negative across the board in the sport. It puts things into perspective for other race promoters who have been accused of having problems with their events as they clearly pale in comparison to the troubles faced by Bahrain. Australia is a good example.
Except for the events on track, the only news we tend to hear about the Australian GP is how the race is under threat due to the government investment in it. The reality is that there are another three years left on its contract and, far from being a burden, the race generates a 254% return on investment for the government according to F1's industry monitor Formula Money.
The negative press coupled with the furore about Bahrain has been so strong this year that it managed to muffle the impressive news that the 2012 Australian GP had the highest four day attendance for the race since 2005. Spectator numbers were up 5.3% on 2011 with a total of 313,700 people visiting Albert Park during the course of the GP and 114,900 turning up on race day alone - a stark contrast to the handful of people in the Bahrain grandstands on Friday.
Andrew Westacott, chief executive of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, puts the increase in visitor numbers down to upgradeable tickets and says that "general admission patrons could pay a premium on their ticket and receive A-grade viewing at turn 15 including bean bags, deck chairs and their own bar...That's what drove attendance and it was the best we've had since 2005."
Merchandise and catering sales from this year's race were up 20% on 2011 and although the sales revenue is still being calculated, it is believed to have already jumped from £15.5m in 2010 to £17.1m last year. Melbourne undoubtedly benefits from its prized place as F1's season-opener and it brings some little-known history with it as in 2013 it will be 60 years since the city hosted its first Grand Prix. It is this kind of achievement that a venue like Bahrain can only dream of emulating.
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