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Melbourne sees off Sydney competition to extend F1 deal

The Victoria state government has sealed a fresh three-year extension to its contract for the Australian Grand Prix, ensuring the country’s round of the Formula One motor-racing championship will remain in Melbourne until 2023.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced the deal yesterday (Sunday). In August 2014, the state government secured a five-year extension to its F1 contract, taking in races from 2016 to 2020, with Melbourne having hosted the Australian GP since 1996, when it replaced Adelaide on the calendar.

Andrews said: “There’s nothing quite like the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne and the buzz it creates around our state. It attracts visitors to Victoria from all over the globe, and shows the world we have the best of everything. Our competitors interstate have made no secret of their desire to steal it, but it is here to stay. I can assure Victorians (Red Bull Racing driver) Daniel Ricciardo won’t be racing over the Sydney Harbour Bridge any time soon.”

Andrews’ comments come after New South Wales Premier Mike Baird revealed a plan to lure the country’s F1 race from Melbourne to Sydney as the opening weekend of the 2015 season got underway in March. New South Wales officials had been looking into the economic feasibility of staging a street race in the heart of Sydney’s central business district.

Financial terms of Victoria’s fresh deal were not disclosed, but it was revealed in September last year that the 2014 Australian GP posted a record loss of Aus$59.97m (€38m/$42.6m). Figures for this year’s race are set to be disclosed in the coming weeks, but the 2014 loss was 18 per cent greater than the Aus$50.7m figure returned for 2013. Losses, subsidised by state taxpayers in Victoria, have been at the root of local criticism of the continued staging of Formula One’s established season opener.

Commenting on the new deal, Formula One Group chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said: “We are very happy to extend our relationship with Melbourne, who continue to set the standard for Formula One events globally. This new agreement will take the city past 25 consecutive years of hosting Formula One, a super achievement.”

The 2015 Australian GP was won by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on March 15.