New South Wales Premier reasserts interest in Grand Prix


Following reports that officials in New South Wales are keen to see the Australian Grand Prix move to Sydney, premier Dominic Perrottet insists the city is in with a "fighting chance".

In October, Seven News reported that Sydney was 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 invest serious money into various events in a bid to revive Sydney in the wake of the pandemic.

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

In reaction to the reports, Australian Grand Prix boss, Andrew Westacott told that he was "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."

Indeed they do, according to NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet who admits that the Grand Prix is one of a number of events he is targeting.

"We've got the greatest cities in not just the country, but the world," he said. "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."

"Our goal at Venues NSW is to have a major event in the state every month," Venues NSW chairman, Tony Stewart tells the Daily Telegraph. "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," he adds, the state having launched a $200 (AUD) fund with the express aim of putting 'NSW on pole position to secure major events'.

"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," he added.

With F1 owners Liberty Media making no secret of its desire to expand the calendar, it is not impossible that Australia could host two rounds of the world championship, however, Australian Grand Prix boss, Andrew Westacott insists Melbourne has no intention of losing the title Australian Grand Prix.

"We're unashamedly Melbourne," he tells, "but we're also very proudly Australian, it is the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

""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," he continued. "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 our 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."

With a contract that runs until 2025, such is the demand in anticipation of the sport's return in April next year organisers are erecting a number of new stands.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Jeddah, here.

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Published: 02/12/2021
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