Qantas will sponsor the 2012 Australian Grand Prix, it has been announced. The airline has secured the naming rights for the event and will also be the 'official airline partner'.

The race, the opening round in the 2012 F1 World Championship, will be held at Albert Park in Melbourne on March 18. Qantas was previously the title sponsor of the race from 1997-2001.

"Qantas has been associated with the Australian Grand Prix for over 25 years and we are pleased that this important partnership is continuing," said Australian Grand Prix Corporation Chairman, Ron Walker.

"F1 is the world's most popular annual sporting series, with each season attracting a television audience of 520 million fans around the world.

"Last year in Australia, 4.23 million watched the 2011 F1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix on television - you just cannot put a value to that level of branding."

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce added: "Qantas has been associated with the Grand Prix since its inception in Australia and we are pleased to continue our support for this year's event.

"We wish Qantas Ambassador Mark Webber the best of luck for the race next month."