Melbourne secures Oz F1 GP until 2020

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IOL mot pic aug4 F1 Albert Park Getty Images Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg leads the field into the first corner as in the background Felipe Massa, Williams, and Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham, collide and spin out at the start of the 2014 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park. Picture: Mark Thompson

Melbourne, Australia - Melbourne has secured the Australian Formula One Grand Prix until 2020 after striking a new deal that will reduce the taxpayer subsidy of about $50 million (R500 million) a year, the head of the Victoria state government said on Sunday.

The race, which has been run in the city's Albert Park since switching from Adelaide in 1996, became a local political issue because of the noise and the subsidy, which amounted to $50.67 million (R505 million) in 2013.

Race organiser Ron Walker had negotiated a new deal for when the current contract ran out after next year's race but there had been some question about whether it would be signed off by the current government of Victoria.

State Premier Denis Napthine on Sunday, though, confirmed the deal had been struck.

“This is a terrific announcement that reaffirms Melbourne and Victoria as the sporting and events capital of the world,” he said.

“We've secured another five-year deal for the Grand Prix and we've secured a great deal for the people of Victoria that's a better deal than the existing deal.”

Napthine said that under the new deal, the race would retain its place in a Formula One calendar that featured 19 rounds this season.

German driver Nico Rosberg won this year's race for Mercedes.

“The new deal is on the same terms as the existing contract in that it will be the first race of the season, it will be in March each year,” Napthine added.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who has in the past suggested the race was one of the least viable because of the time difference with the key European television market, said the city deserved the race.

“I congratulate Melbourne for the excellent way in which it presents Formula One to the world,” he was quoted as saying.

Reuters


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