Australia to resume as first F1 race - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Australia to resume as first F1 race

By Robert Grant 03/04/2006 06:13:16 AM Comments (0)

The Australian Grand Prix will resume its position as the first race on the Formula One calendar next year, Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has confirmed.

Mr Bracks said the contract with Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone "embedded" Australian race as the first race on the F1 calendar.

He said the government agreed to vary the deal for only one year due to the staging of the Commonwealth Games, which meant the Melbourne race was third after Bahrain and Malaysia.

Mr Bracks and AGP chairman Ron Walker dismissed rumours the race would remain as the third round in the future.

"I was there with Ron Walker when the contract was renegotiated for 2010 with an option further for the next five years after that and one of the conditions of the contract was that the first race on the F1 calendar of the year," Mr Bracks said.

"It will revert to the first race in the future."

Mr Bracks said Victoria wanted the race "for as long as we can get it."

"The reason we put in an option post 2010 was so we could negotiate a good deal for our state," he said.

The race attracted a total of 301,800 - including 103,000 which compared to 118,200 on Sunday last year.

Mr Walker said the GP had done well in attracting so many people with such a festival of sport surrounding it in Melbourne.

"We are disappointed but you can't have your cake and eat it too," Walker said.

He said that more than $300 million had already been taken out of family budgets because of the Commonwealth Games.

"Over the last two weeks with the Commonwealth Games, AFL football and the Grand Prix in Victoria we're seen something like two million tickets sold for major events in the state.

"Nowhere else in Australia could have that sort of success," Mr Walker said.

Those who turned up were rewarded with an excess of action - they saw Formula One rejuvenated by the new qualifying formats.

Renault racer Fernando Alonso tiptoed through a maelstrom of crashes and safety cars to seize the Australian Grand Prix and tighten his grip on the Formula One title.

The Spaniard claimed his second race win in three rounds but admitted his car was so fast he was in danger of losing concentration early in the race.

In a grand prix packed with incidents from the expected to the bizarre, Alonso clung to his lead, which evaporated four times as the safety car was forced out following a series of spectacular crashes.

In the end he beat home Finnish McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen by 1.8 seconds with Toyota pilot Ralf Schumacher third a further 24.8 seconds back

Race day saw hot starts, false starts, no starts, crashes, mechanical failures and even overtaking moves.

Within the first lap Ferrari hothead Felipe Massa had rocketed into a safety fence, Toyota's Jarno Trulli was taken out and Williams youngster Nico Rosberg leapt from his steaming car in the pits as it expired.

Local hero Mark Webber was sidelined mid-race by gearbox problems. Michael Schumacher crashed spectacularly 10 laps later.

Even seconds from the end there were fireworks as Jenson Button's Honda exploded in flames just 50 metres from the chequered flag.

Still thinking, Button elected not to push his car over the line and salvage points because a blown motor during the race gives him a new engine without penalty grid spots for the next race in Imola.

The drivers almost unanimously called for the race to return to its season-opening position next year - and it will, assured Victorian Premier Steve Bracks.

Meanwhile the drivers took part enthusiastically in all the peripheral activities which sets the Melbourne race apart from every other round in the F1 season.

Toyota's Jarno Trulli went chasing an Australian distributor for the wine he produces at his Abruzzo vineyard in Italy, Michael Schumacher entertained Hollywood star Eric Bana and teams competed to welcome former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins.

Motorsport and football mixed easily as Ralf Schumacher watched Essendon destroy Sydney alongside an injured James Hird and deflated Richmond players gaped at the clinical environment of the Williams pits as Mark Webber gave them a tour.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

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