Australian GP chief: Liberty takeover could prompt Sydney bid for race
Sydney could launch a bid to take Formula 1’s Australian Grand Prix away from Melbourne, according to Andrew Westacott, the chief executive of the race.
In an interview with Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper, Westacott said that the $8-billion takeover of the motor racing series by Liberty Media, the US media giant, and the appointment of Chase Carey, the vice-chairman of 21st Century Fox, as its new chief executive, could prompt renewed interest from Sydney.
In 2015, the government of the state of Victoria signed an agreement with Bernie Ecclestone, then the series promoter, to continue to stage the grand prix in Melbourne until 2023.
However, when pressed on the possibility of a Sydney swoop, Westacott said: “It wouldn’t surprise me. The world of events is very competitive.’’
He remains confident that Melbourne will see out its contract, saying: "The thing I would emphasise is Melbourne has a global reputation across all events — this is our 22nd event — and we do it very, very well.
“I would expect the new owners will be here to see how we do it and have a look at one of the very best Formula One events in the world.”
Melbourne has established itself as the home of Formula 1's opening race of the season since replacing Adelaide as the home of the Australian Grand Prix in 1996.
However, there have been doubts over its future on the calendar, with the Victoria government, which funds the event, having regularly come under pressure to withdraw its backing because of the high costs involved.
This season-opening Australian Grand Prix takes place on 24 to 26 March.