Ecclestone skips Melbourne F1 opener

Bernie Ecclestone (GBR) F1 Supremo. Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Hungarian Grand Prix, Hungaroring, Hungary, 22 August 2003. DIGITAL IMAGE

Bernie Ecclestone

Mar.22 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is no longer travelling to Australia for this weekend’s 2011 season opener.

The F1 chief executive’s office had previously confirmed that the 80-year-old would be in Melbourne, but reports on Tuesday said Ecclestone has headed instead to New York.

Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun said New York mayor Michael Bloomberg issued the invitation following speculation the Victorian government wanted to offload its race due to rising costs.

Bloomberg “invited Ecclestone to the US to hear his pitch for a race on Staten Island”, said the report.

“As a result of what has happened in the last couple of weeks mayor Bloomberg has been on to Mr Ecclestone,” confirmed Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker.

“It’s not just a fight against New York, it’s a fight against everybody. Delhi is opening up, there will be one in Russia, Korea has come on stream … the other Arab states want it, so there will always be a fight,” he added.