The future of one of the most popular Grand Prix races on the calendar looks to be on the verge of being secured, with reports in the Australian press indicating that the deal to keep F1 in Melbourne is all but signed.
"The deal is pretty much done," a well-placed source told the Herald Sun
newspaper. "[It] will now go to the Cabinet for approval."
The report said that Australia's Grand Prix chairman Ron Walker had been holding talks with Bernie Ecclestone in Singapore this week to tie up the final details and make sure that the matter was concluded as soon as possible.
Previously, Victoria state premier Denis Napthine had indicated that he wanted to keep the event at its present home in Albert Park
in Melbourne, but that the local government had to secure the right terms in order to be able to afford the extension.
"We would support the Grand Prix - we would like the Grand Prix - but not at any price," said Dr Napthine. "We want to get fair value for the taxpayers' dollar.
"We've got Ron Walker in negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone and his group," Dr Napthine added. "But my message to Bernie is that we want a fair deal for Victorian taxpayers ... and we certainly won't be paying exorbitant fees to Bernie or anyone else."
The reports added that Australian GP chief executive Andrew Westacott had also flown to Singapore to attend this weekend's night race.
While F1 loses its most prominent Australian on the starting grid at the end of the year, there is bound to be renewed interest in how Mark Webber's compatriot and replacement at Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo, fares in his first season with the world championship-winning squad.