As the uncertainty surrounding the future of F1 rumbles on, with still no firm resolution having been reached, a further threat has been made by the organisers of the Australian Grand Prix – with Victoria Premier John Brumby adamant that Melbourne 'won't be paying for half an event'.
Last week, Australian Grand Prix chairman Ron Walker had warned the warring FIA and Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) factions that 'if the disunity continues, Melbourne will seriously consider its position on continuing with Formula 1', suggesting that the departure of iconic teams like Ferrari, McLaren and BMW to form a separate breakaway series would significantly weaken the top flight's allure, 'glamour' – and, by extension, government investment [see separate story – click here
]. Brumby has now backed up that stance.
“I want value for money for Victorian taxpayers,” he insisted in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald
, “and that means you want all of the competitors, you want all of the race teams.
“We won't be paying for half an event, simple as that. I hope that they can resolve this; I'm sure that they can. I think it's very early days.”
Opposition leader Ted Baillieu, by contrast, sought to underline the necessity of retaining the prestigious event in Melbourne, which has welcomed F1 since 1996 after taking over from Adelaide, which had hosted the race from its maiden appearance on the F1 calendar back in 1985.
Melbourne's present contract runs until 2015, but the grand prix made a $40 million AUD loss in 2008 and recorded the lowest attendance figures of any of its 14 editions this year, putting its future in persistent doubt.
“The Victorian government must now have a contingency plan in order to keep the grand prix here in Victoria in the future,” Baillieu stressed. “If we lose the grand prix it'll be gone forever.”