MARCH 4, 2004
A date change for Melbourne?
Bernie Ecclestone turned up in Melbourne on Thursday, his first visit to the Australian race since 1997 and, inevitably, this led to speculation that the Formula One boss needed to talk to some of the big players about the future of the race. Melbourne has a contract which goes at least until 2010 and it may be that there is talk about extending the contract but there is also a problem looming in 2006 as the Grand Prix will, in theory at least, be taking place within a few days of the start of the Commonwealth Games, which runs from March 15-26 in 2006. The Formula 1 race has been held on dates ranging between March 3 and March 12 since the first race in 1996 but with the city gearing up for the Commonwealth Games Melbourne may want to be moved for a year. Logically the switch would be to the end of the year but this creates fiscal problems as the city cannot afford to have two Grands Prix in the same fiscal year and that means that there cannot be a race in September 2006 and another in March 2007.
In all probability this will mean that the race will take place in May or June 2006 although this would mean that the weather in Melbourne would be less reliable.
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