Ecclestone casts doubt over Australian GP future

03/02/2008
NEWS STORY

While Max Mosley takes care of his side of F1, Bernie Ecclestone is busy taking care of his.

Just six weeks before the 2008 season opener in Melbourne, the F1 supremo is warning Australia that it faces losing its round of the World Championship unless it is willing to meet with his demands.

Talking to Sydney's Sunday Telegraph, Ecclestone warned that beyond 2010 there is the possibility that Australia might not have a slot on the F1 calendar as he seeks fresh, wealthier pastures.

"Maybe we don't want to be in Australia,'' he said. "Our costs are very high in Australia and we get a lot less money. It's bloody bad for us.

"We've got quite a few places on the list which would like to have Formula One and, as it seems your guy down there doesn't want Formula One," he added, referring to Victoria Premier John Brumby, "we can make him happy and make the other people happy.''

According to the Sunday Telegraph, as the Melbourne promoters make every effort to woo the fans, since 1996, when (then) Victoria Premier Jeff Kennett lured the event from Adelaide, it has lost more than $120m AUD. While some will argue that the Grand Prix is beneficial to Melbourne, and indeed, Australia, try telling that to hard-pressed tax payers who see their money being poured into the coffers of a sport that apparently doesn't even want to be there, with Ecclestone claiming that manufacturers and sponsors support a move.

"It comes down to, is it bad for Melbourne to spend the money they spend and is it good for us to be there because the amount of money we get from Melbourne is less than most of the places in Europe where we can more or less be there in an hour,'' said Ecclestone, who seems intent on taking F1 out of Europe and further into the east, to places such as Korea and Russia.

However, other than more dosh, there are other conditions which would have to be met: "In Melbourne, if we were to continue to be there, we would have to have a night race,'' he said. "That would be the only option.

"Why wouldn't we take it somewhere else?'' he added, ensuring that the message is rammed home. "Unfortunately we would have to consider the financial aspect for a start.''

Meanwhile, according to Sportbusiness.com, last week Ecclestone used a charity breakfast to fire off another warning regarding the future of the British GP, one of the venues the F1 circus can reach in less than an hour.

"It would be nice if we could point to Silverstone and say we had the best in the world," Sportbusiness.com quotes Ecclestone as saying. This is ironic when you consider that his call for assistance from the government was made - according to Sportbusiness.com - "at a business breakfast, for Norwood, a leading UK charity supporting children and families living with disability and social difficulties".

In the great scheme of things, surely the government's role is to assist "children and families living with disability and social difficulties" as opposed to doling out tax-payers cash to CVC and whoever else owns F1.

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Published: 03/02/2008
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