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DATE News (chronologically)
03/18/08
f1
Australian GP doomed, or is it?  UPDATE #4 According to reports in the Australian press, there is no way that Melbourne will fold beneath the pressure being piled on them by FOM chief Bernie Ecclestone in regard to making their annual Grand prix a night event.

That said however, the race, which attracted 107,000 spectators on Sunday, is important to the state and they will take reasonable steps to keep it.

“We’ll take whatever steps are reasonable and whatever steps are practical to keep the event. We’d like to keep the event, that’s what we want to do, I’ve made no secret of that,” Victorian state leader Premier John Brumby told Reuters. “There will not be a night Grand Prix and I don’t think we need to hold a night Grand Prix.”

Last Sunday’s event took place ninety minutes later than usual with next year’s planned to take place three hours later than the traditional two pm start, however it seems as if that is not enough to satisfy Bernie Ecclestone who has threatened to cancel it if a night race is not put in place. 

03/17/08 The Australian Grand Prix won't be held under lights, despite comments from Formula One head Bernie Ecclestone that the race needs a floodlit future.  On Monday, Victorian state leader Premier John Brumby ruled out a night race, but said his government would do 'everything possible' to keep the Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Last week, in an interview published in London's Mail on Sunday, Ecclestone tied the future of the race to it being held at night.

'The only way the race could stay in Melbourne, or anywhere else in Australia, is if it is staged during the night so that the public in Europe can watch it,' Ecclestone said. 'The alternative is to pull the race completely from Australia.'

Sunday's race started 90 minutes later than last year - at 3.30 pm local time - to offer a better viewing time for Asian fans, but Ecclestone said the move was not enough to guarantee the future of the race in Australia after its F1 contact expires in 2010.

Formula One newcomer Singapore will stage the first night Grand Prix this season in September, but Australian organizers maintain that night time racing at the temporary track at Albert Park is not viable.

The Australian GP has been part of the F1 circuit for 23 years, 12 at Albert Park on the edge of downtown Melbourne.

Brumby said Monday that the prospect of a 10 am Sunday race - Saturday night in Europe - has also been raised.

'We'll take whatever steps are reasonable and whatever steps are practical to keep the event. We'd like to keep the event, that's what we want to do - I've made no secret of that,' Brumby said.

'There won't be a night Grand Prix and I don't think we need to hold a night Grand Prix.' Brumby said Asian television audiences were increasing and could overtake Europe as the biggest F1 spectator market in the future.

'I think there's going to be a lot of viewers in our time zone,' Brumby said. 'Yesterday the race went into Europe early in the morning, we'll look at other times but there won't be a night Grand Prix.' Strait Times

03/11/08 (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has given a less than receptive response to Australian GP organizers' proposal this week to delay the start of next year's Melbourne race until late afternoon.

The organizers' 5pm offer was delivered after the local Victorian government totally ruled out F1 chief executive Ecclestone's demand that Australia fund a floodlit night race to appease the key European television audience.

Speaking to Australian newspapers from London, Ecclestone said on Tuesday: "It needs to be a night race."

The 77-year-old Briton added the proposed twilight race "doesn't help a lot".

"Obviously, the later it is in Europe the better as far as I am concerned.  I suppose it is easier getting up at 6am than 3am, so perhaps that's something, but not what we are really looking for."

03/09/08 Australian Grand Prix organizers are preparing a compromise plan in response to Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone’s threats that Melbourne will lose the race if it doesn't switch to a night time slot.

Ecclestone told a British newspaper that discussions with Australia's prime minister had failed to break an impasse over the future of the event.

Ecclestone had been pushing for Australia to adopt a night race in the interests of European television ratings, but race organizers had resisted a move they considered impractical.

The race is staged in the public Albert Park on the fringes of downtown Melbourne, Australia's second biggest city, and organizers said it would be prohibitively expensive to install temporary lighting each year.

"The only way the race could stay in Melbourne, or anywhere else in Australia, is if it is staged during the night so that the public in Europe can watch it," Ecclestone was quoted as saying in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

"At the moment it is ridiculous that people are asked not to sleep in order to see it live. That can't carry on. The alternative is to pull the race completely from Australia."

But Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker on Monday said he would soon reveal plans he hopes will allow Australia to keep its stop on the F1 schedule.

"We'll make a press statement this afternoon about a compromise," Walker said, without giving any more detail.

Ecclestone said he had discussed the matter with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ahead of the season opener in Melbourne this weekend.

"I've spoken to Kevin Rudd and he's told me it would cost too much to re-stage the race, so I guess that's it," Ecclestone said.

"We won't be going to Australia for too much longer."

But Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker on Monday said he would soon reveal plans for Australia to keep its stop on the F1 schedule.

"We'll make a press statement this afternoon about a compromise," Walker said, without giving any more detail.

The Victoria state government backs the event financially and would have to support any changes.

Its spokeswoman Vanessa Schulze said the government supported the Formula One event and wants to continue hosting the event, but "it is not prepared to do so at any cost."

"The future of the Formula One Grand Prix beyond 2010 will be considered with regards to whether the event continues to be good for Victoria and delivers value for money," Schulze said.

Formula One newcomer Singapore will stage the first night Grand Prix this season.

The Australian Grand Prix had been on the calendar since 1985, moving from Adelaide to Melbourne in 1996. The race will start 90 minutes later this season in the interests of overseas viewers. USA Today

03/09/08 Bernie Ecclestone has all but sealed the fate of the Australian grand Prix as the Albert Park circuit organizers go into overdrive to stage this year’s season opener here this weekend, the FOM chief claiming that without the agreement to host a night race, either at Albert park or elsewhere in the country, the existing contract will not be renewed.

"I've spoken to Kevin Rudd (Australian Prime Minister) and he's told me it would cost too much to re-stage the race. So I guess that's it," he was quoted as telling the Sunday Mail. "We won't be going to Australia for too much longer. At the moment, it is ridiculous that people are asked not to sleep in order to see it live. That can't carry on."

The odd thing about this statement however is the fact that the Australian media claim that it is highly likely that no such conversation took place, the Prime Minister’s office stating that they cannot find any record of a conversation taking place between the two men.

Also, the statement about people being asked not to sleep to watch the races is interesting, as Australian, New Zealand and most Asian countries are expected to do just that for more than two thirds of the season in comparison to three events for Europeans. (Australia, Malaysia and China) AutoMoto365

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