For months the future of the Australian Grand Prix has been in doubt with Bernie Ecclestone demanding more money and a night-time start for the Melbourne race. However it has been finally annnounced that Albert Park has been granted a five-year extension to its current contract which was due to expire in 2010. The new deal will see the State of Victoria host the Australian Grand Prix until at least 2015 at its lake-side circuit.
A compromise between Melbourne’s authorities and Ecclestone means the race will start at 5pm local time, and this I believe is scheduled to start as of next year as it was previously announced; this year’s race commenced at 3pm local time as a ‘tester’. This makes it around 7am GMT and 8am elsewhere in Europe.
The Australian Grand Prix has always been a great show, with some of the biggest crowds in Formula One.
I’m satisfied that the decision to move to a later start time for 2009 races is a win for television audiences in Europe and Asia, a win for Melbourne and a win for Formula One as a whole. Bernie Ecclestone.
When the FIA released the provisional calendar late last month it was noted that the Australian Grand Prix remained as the first race of the 2009 season, and although this announcement was yet to be made at the time, it was expected.
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The massive television exposure that Melbourne receives year in year out has helped build our world-wide reputation as a great place to visit and a great place to live.
Next year’s later start time will mean even greater TV audiences in the United Kingdom, Asia and European markets which means more exposure for brand “Melbourne” than ever before. John Brumby, Premier, State of Victoria.