Melbourne seeks F1 beyond 2015 contract

Australian Grand Prix pit babesSep.22 (GMM) A new venue for the Australian grand prix beyond 2015 could be shaping up near Melbourne.

Earlier this month, Calder Park owner Bob Jane denied a major redevelopment of his circuit was a move to become an alternative for current F1 host Albert Park.

The Australian round, currently hosted on a mainly temporary circuit south of the city, made international headlines last week when an unprecedented $50m taxpayer’s loss for the 2010 edition was revealed.

The local morning newspaper Herald Sun now reports that the state Victorian government, the sanctioning body CAMS, and Jane have signed an agreement.

The report said the agreement might also be to investigate options for a F1-standard circuit at Avalon, about a 45 minute drive from Melbourne, adding that FIA officials were expected to visit Calder Park to assess the suitability of the site.

“I know they are happy at Albert Park,” Jane, who organised non-championship F1 races at Calder Park prior to Adelaide joining the calendar in the 80s, said.

“But in the future there has to be options, and at the moment there are none,” said the former touring car driver, whose circuit is about 25 kilometres from Melbourne.

Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker played down the news by insisting Albert Park is the best F1 venue for Melbourne because it “showcases the city”.

And government spokesman Luke Enright said there are no plans to relocate the race.

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    Sydney have expressed an interest too.

    As for Calder Park, Andrew Fox said: “I’m happy to put the capital up on behalf of the Fox family at Avalon and build a world class standard circuit.”

    A CAMS/FIA study is being conducted by UK experts into the proposal.

    CAMS chief executive Graham Fountain said : “We, as part of the feasibility study, will be looking at a whole range of options and opportunities for a potential venue at Avalon.”

    Victorian sports minister James Merlino added: “A decision to relocate the race is ultimately up to government, regardless of CAMS’s findings.”