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U-turn from Melbourne Mayor

NEWS STORY
17/03/2011

Melbourne's Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, has gone back on his previous decision and has now revealed that he will attend next week's Grand Prix.

In January, Doyle said that it was time the city turned its back on Formula One, claiming that annual losses on the event could soon reach $70m AUD (42.3m).

Writing in the Herald Sun, he said the race no longer offered the Victoria state government value for money. "My judgment would be: Get ready. Time's up," he wrote of the Albert Park event.

Bernie Ecclestone, who Doyle described as "cranky" responded by saying that though this year's event would go ahead he was willing to terminate the contract after the race and take F1 elsewhere.

Reacting directly to Doyle's comments, Ecclestone added: "If the mayor thinks I'm cranky, I can probably help him by proving it. If he's not happy with the event in Australia, if he wants to cancel the contract, we'd be happy to talk to him about that. If he wishes to cease having the event in Melbourne, I am happy to discuss that with him."

Doyle subsequently declared that he would boycott the race, however, today, talking to Fairfax Radio he admitted a change of heart insisting that it followed intense pressure from numerous local business leaders.

"Their point to me was, 'regardless of what you think about the cost, the race is going to happen this year, you are the leader of the city, you should be there'," he said.

When asked if he hated the Grand Prix he said "no", adding: "I raised questions legitimately about its cost to the taxpayers of Victoria."

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