Speaking to media in Melbourne, Formula One Group CEO Stefano Domenicali is confident his decision to ignore a lucrative offer from Sydney to move the Australian Grand Prix was the right one.
The NSW capital made an “incredible” pitch to host the marquee event in the country’s most populated city, but it was denied.
Instead, the Victorian state government last year announced a two-year extension to the decade-long deal it struck earlier in 2022, ensuring the Australian Grand Prix will be going nowhere until at least 2037.
Speaking on Wednesday, Domenicali was confident the right call has been made.
“We had a very important offer from Sydney to have the Grand Prix, and that was dealt in a very, very professional way,” Domenicali said.
“At the end of the day, it was not an easy decision, but all in all, it was for the best of Formula 1, and we are very happy and proud to have that agreement with Melbourne because what has been done in the last few decades has proven to be very strong and successful.
“With respect of course, it was done in a great way. (Sydney) were very serious and did an incredible job.
“The decision in the future is for others, but we’ve always been committed to Albert Park. It’s a destination city. We’re 4km from the CBD.
“The attraction is for new fans to come along because they can jump on a tram in our city and be at the circuit in 20 minutes to see something they’ve never experienced before, and when they experience it, they say, ‘I’m going to come back this year’.”
After two years of pandemic-interrupted events, the Grand Prix last year bounced back to attract a record 419,000 fans to Albert Park – a figure that is expected to be exceeded at this year’s edition.
“Last year’s event did two things, I believe; it showed that Melbourne delivers on the global stage, which is important. You cannot ever rest on your laurels in Formula 1, whether you’re a team or a promoter or a partner,” Domenicali said.
“But it also showed the government the Victorian people love major events and when they’re delivered to the greatest standard, then they’re very, very good for the city.”