“Within this contract we hope to see Australia’s own Daniel Ricciardo win the Australian Grand Prix and become World Champion. I congratulate Australian Grand Prix Corporation Chairman Ron Walker for his success as a tough negotiator in getting the best deal for Victoria.”
The new contract will be Walker’s last major contribution to the Australian Grand Prix. He stands down as chairman of the Grand Prix Corporation next year.
The details of the new contract have not been announced but the negotiations have been going on for 12 months.
Napthine and his administration may not be around by the time the next Australian GP happens because his centre-right Liberal/National Coalition has to survive the November 29 state election against an Australian Labor Party opposition, led by Daniel Andrews, which is marauding through the opinion polls at the moment.
The government says that the major events strategy contributes $1.3 billion (about £720m) annually to the Victorian economy and generates around 3500 jobs. The Australian Grand Prix itself generates around 400 full-time jobs and direct economic benefit of $36m (roughly £20m), although the politicians believe that it is worth a great deal more than that because it showcases Melbourne and attracts tourists from all over the world.
The state’s auditor-general refuses to include any estimates of the intangible benefits in its accounting and thus works on the principle that there is zero intangible economic benefit for Victoria from the Australian Grand Prix.
One can argue about the numbers but to claim no impact at all is plain silly and plays into the hands of the protesters who say that the race is not worth the investment.
Formula 1 came to Melbourne in 1996 and in 2015 will celebrate 20 years at Albert Park. The race is expected to kick off the season as usual on March 15.