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Australian GP boss unsurprised by Sydney speculation

NEWS STORY
22/10/2021

Following claims that Sydney is considering a bid to host the Australian Grand Prix, event boss, Andrew Westacott says he is "not surprised" by the move.

As the Austin race weekend got underway, in Australia Seven News was reporting that Sydney is considering making a move to grab the event from Melbourne which has hosted the race since 1996.

"Sensitive, high-level talks are underway," it was claimed, with New South Wales' investment minister, Stuart Ayres said to be ready to spend serious money into various events in a bid to revive Sydney in the wake of the pandemic.

In 2005, Mark Webber famously drove his Williams across the Harbour Bridge, and while there is the Sydney Motorsport Park circuit in the west of the city, which includes a state-of-the-art lighting system, since the early 1980s there has been talk of a 'Monaco-style track around The Rocks at the northern end of the city centre.

Though not forming part of the Formula One World Championship, New South Wales has previously hosted the Australian Grand Prix, the last occasion being in 1977 at Oran Park.

The current contract expires in 2025, and talking to Speedcafe, Australian Grand Prix boss, Andrew Westacott admitted that he is "not surprised” by the speculation.

"I am not surprised that stories like this come out every probably three or four years,” he said. "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," he continued, "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.

"Formula 1 will, as you've seen, look to expand their wings,” he admitted. "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."

Asked if there were right of refusal clauses in the current contract in terms of prospective new deals, he replied: "We've got lots of strong components of the current a) contract, and b) relationship that we have with Formula 1.

"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," he concluded.

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1. Posted by Johnny48, 05/11/2021 10:20

"Seven News not even associated with Australia GP spreading incorrect fact "

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