The Formula 1 fraternity has urged the newly installed Victorian state premier, Denis Napthine, to hold talks with Australian Grand Prix organisers in the hope of extending its current contract at Albert Park beyond the end of the 2015 season.
Mr Napthine (pictured above) has held the position of state premier for less than a week, following the shock
deposal resignation of then-premier, Ted Baillieu.
A spokesperson for Mr Napthine confirmed that the new leader was keen for the Grand Prix to remain in Melbourne provided the new negotiations heralded “a strong emphasis on value to the state and value to Victorian taxpayers.”
Mr Napthine is expected to meet with Formula One officials during the Grand Prix week, while leading racing drivers – including the two Australians on the grid, Mark Webber ad Daniel Ricciardo – have urged for the event to be retained.
“It is a world-class event, as you would expect from Aussies when we organise something,” Webber told reporters while displaying his Red Bull Racing F1 showcar at Sydney Motorsport Park during the Top Gear Festival.
“We’re proud to hold an international event and long may it continue.”
“I would love for it to stay in Australia,” Ricciardo added. “I’m happy with Melbourne … personally I would like it there for as long as possible.”
And former Australian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton added: “You can’t not have the Australian Grand Prix because it’s just great.”
The long-term future of the event has remained under a cloud amidst continually escalating costs – largely footed by state taxpayers – to host the event each year. Last year’s Grand Prix operated at a $50 million loss, prompting calls from anti-GP lobbyists to have the event dumped.