The Australian Grand Prix’s latest contract extension could pave the way for its V8 Supercar Championship support races to be elevated to championship-level status next year.
A new deal to keep the Formula 1 circus visiting Melbourne each year was recently inked, which will see the Australian Grand Prix remain at Albert Park until at least 2020.
The V8 Supercar racers – and their Australian Touring Car Championship forebears – have had a non-championship status support billing at all but one of the 30 Australian Grands Prix held since Formula 1 first headed ‘Down Under’ in 1985.
With next year’s V8 Supercars Championship returning to local Formula 1 broadcaster, Network Ten – as part of a shared broadcasting deal with Fox Sports – it could pave the way for negotiations to elevate the tin-tops to championship-level billing for the first time ever.
There has been an increased push to make the Australian Grand Prix support races have full championship status, and that’s a feature that the event’s organisers would be keen to get sorted.
“There’s no impediment whatsoever to trying to make that happen,” Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott told the Fairfax media group.
“I’m looking forward to 2015 with a very positive intent [to make it happen].
“We’ve asked V8s to come up with ideas for race formats and scheduling, both of which have to fit in with F1’s strict requirements. Beyond that depends on a continuing alignment of the respective F1 and V8 broadcasters.
“But if the V8 races can remain a part of their championship, it would be a great thing, adding more weight to the event.”
Whether or not this becomes a long-term arrangement will ultimately depend on whether Network Ten can itself secure a renewed broadcasting deal for Formula 1. Its current contract runs out at the end of 2015.
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