Melbourne secures the Australian GP until 2020
Melbourne has secured the Australian Formula One Grand Prix until 2020 after striking a new deal that will reduce the taxpayer subsidy of around A$50 million (NZ$55m) a year, the head of the Victoria state government says.
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 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 today, 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 told 3AW radio station in Melbourne.
''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.
''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 a news release.
German driver Nico Rosberg won this year's race for Mercedes.