FEBRUARY 28, 2012
Ecclestone puts pressure on Australia
F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has, not for the first time, suggested that the Australian GP may need to become a night race if it is to maintain its position on the calendar.
The Melbourne GP has an existing deal until 2015 but beyond that, Ecclestone would prefer it if the Australian GP ran at a time better suited to European TV audiences.
Some three years ago, Ecclestone made the same noises at around the same time - the lead up to the season's opening race - and prompted a lot of negative comment in Australia along the lines of F1 being a 'world' championship and not something that exists for the benefit of Europe.
One Melbourne newspaper even went as far as to suggest that there was no need for expensive lighting, which would cause more consternation for Victorian tax-payers. A cartoon illustrated the solution, with Mr E dropping his trousers and bending over, allowing the race to take place in perfect sunshine!
This time, Ecclestone has fired a salvo by saying, "We have other races ready to take the place of Australia - which we don't want to happen. But it would be wring of me to have to report to our board, 'Terribly sorry about this but we have to walk away from Wherever to retain Australia.'"