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NOVEMBER 30, 2004

A street promotion for Melbourne?

There is talk of running the Formula 1 cars through the streets of Melbourne before the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne next year. The event would be an attempt to bring more people to Albert Park. The proposal is reportedly being discussed by the city authorities with the possibility of a track which would run around a block of the city which would include Flinders Street Station, St Paul's Cathedral, City Square, the Town Hall and the Grand Hyatt. The four streets involved would be Swanston, Flinders, Russell and Collins and the major problem would probably be the multitude of tramlines that crisscross the intersections. The plan appears to be run half a dozen cars including the Williams of Mark Webber.

The proposal has been made by the Grand Prix Corporation to the City Council which will meet soon to discuss the idea. The event would take place at lunchtime on March 2, the first day of the planned race carnival and would require the closure of a good section of the downtown area and diversions to stop the traffic snarling up.

"I've had an approach from the Grand Prix Corporation," said Melbourne City Council chief executive Pitchford. "It appears to be a seriously good branding exercise. This is exposure for the city you just couldn't buy. If it's feasible I'll put a recommendation to the council as soon as it's sworn in."

The news explains strange reports of the appearance on the streets of the downtown area of a single-seater which was pushed around the district one evening to check whether there was sufficient ground-clearance for the event.

A similar event took place in London last summer and attracted a huge crowd.