Long-time Australian Grand Prix chairman Ron Walker has announced that he will step down from the role after next year's 20th anniversary Melbourne event.

Walker, 74, played a key role in attracting F1 to the state of Victoria after the sport had made a success of its residence in Adelaide, and has been at his current post for 22 years, but admits that it is now time for a change as the event looks to retain its place on the calendar amid wrangling over start times and escalating costs.

"I'll retire next year, after 20 years [of the Melbourne race]," Walker, who also heads up the MotoGP committee in charge of the event at Phillip Island, told news.com.au, "I'm 75 this year and it's good governance to let someone fresh take the reins."

The former Lord Mayor of Melbourne has already identified his successor, with previous Australian Grand Prix chief executive John Harnden lined up to replace him after next season's event. Harnden is currently CEO of the 2015 Cricket World Cup committee, but has been approved by the Grand Prix board and now only requires sanctioning by the state government. Walker, meanwhile, expects to remain in charge while the GP committee concludes its contract talks with Formula One Management.

"It's not public knowledge - we haven't made the announcements, because we wanted to continue to do what we do without any fanfare," Walker explained, "I put [Harnden] on the board, because I wanted him to follow me. He's ideally placed [and] it's a seamless transition."



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