Formula One: Why We Can't Let Melbourne Lose The Australian Grand Prix

Alistair HunterContributor IJanuary 28, 2011

Melbourne, the host of the Australian Grand Prix.
Melbourne, the host of the Australian Grand Prix.Clive Mason/Getty Images

Last season, we were saddened after Bahrain. The Grand Prix there made us wonder if this would be one of the most boring seasons, after a dull race with minimal overtaking.


Then the F1 circus headed to Albert Park. Suddenly, our doubts were destroyed in a festival of exciting racing, where Jenson Button emerged victorious after a good call on strategy.


The Australian Grand Prix has consistently provided dramatic races, and almost always produced an unpredictable result.


Which puts the Formula One community in a very unique situation.


The fans don't want to see the race disappear from the calendar. However, this happens for usually every single change to the schedule, and luckily the changes never seem to happen.


The unusual factor is that Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One supremo, has not indicated that he would like the race to disappear off the calendar.


Unfortunately, it is the local authorities who want to scrap the race.


Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, in an article for the Australian Herald Sun, said that "time's up" for the Grand Prix. And according to a poll on their website, 62.07% of readers agree.


The race weekends could cost $70 million Australian dollars by 2015, when the current contract ends. Robert Doyle mentioned that "Bernie will take the dollars of either an Asian or oil-rich Middle Eastern state."


He is right.


Hosting a Formula One race has become centred on money, and it will be a tragedy if the Grand Prix leaves Melbourne.


Where will the race go? Probably some country with an average racetrack where victories are based solely on qualifying positions.


I'm not remotely excited by the future of Formula One, if we have to cut off some of the traditional racetracks. We visit good racetracks in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Monaco and Spain almost every year.


If we left those places behind, F1 would also leave many of its fans behind. I am not particularly excited by having several races at bland, uninteresting tracks in rich countries.


Admittedly, I don't have solutions. Motorsport is one of the few places where spending millions on a car is no guarantee of success, and the races seem to reflect this.


I have no idea if Formula One will ever be profitable, but usually spending money on a F1 weekend is a good way to get tourists in and advertise your country to millions of viewers watching at home.


If enough countries decide that the financial burden is too much in these tough economic times, it could be the beginning of the end for Formula One in certain countries.


While several countries seem willing to step in, it is unlikely to be the same. Truthfully, if only the countries that can afford races host races, the F1 world could change forever.


While I'm generally open minded, I don't like the sound of this...