The rollercoaster ride surrounding the viability took an upward turn as the sound of F1 cars died down around Albert Park, with Victoria state premier Ted Baillieu claiming that Melbourne needs to remain as the host of choice.

There has been much discussion in recent weeks as to whether the race is still of value to the city and state, with increasing costs and dwindling attendances causing Melbourne mayor Robert Doyle to suggest that it has run its course [ see story here]. The state government forked out $50m to cover losses made by the 2010 event, continuing a trend that has been prevalent throughout the race's history that has led to combined losses totalling around $156m in 15 years.

The biggest annual cost faced by Melbourne is the money payable to FOM for the right to host a round of the world championship, currently estimated at around $25m, something that Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker has deemed a 'wretched fee' [see story here], but which Bernie Ecclestone appears to have no intention of renegotiating, with his views on the Australian round fluctuating between it being 'as important as Monaco' and being the next event to be axed to make room for newcomers in the USA and Russia [see story here].

Ecclestone's threat, ironically, came just as a senior government official revealed that the state was keen to discuss an extension to its current deal [see story here], and, whilst accepting mayor Doyle's doubts, premier Baillieu also remains in favour of the event, claiming that Melbourne ought to consider continuing as host beyond 2015, when its current contract expires.

"It's been great for Victoria, great for Melbourne," he told Melbourne's Age newspaper, "It's a critical part of Melbourne's major events strategy, which has been so successful for this state and this city."



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