Daniel Andrews, the premier of the Australian state of Victoria, announced in a Facebook post yesterday that the Melbourne Grand Prix, which in the past decade has usually been the first race on the F1 calendar, would be hosted by the Southern Australian city until at least 2023.
Under the rules of the current agreement, the race was stipulated to run till 2020, and this has now been extended, reports speedcafe.com. Sources had suggested Sydney was looking to take over the mantle of hosting the Australian Grand Prix, and Andrews poked fun at the premier of New South Wales, Michael Baird, in the video posted to his Facebook page.
He told them they were “more than welcome” to come to Melbourne to be part of the ”great race.”
“In fact, I’ll even shout you a ticket,” he told Baird.
Although the Australian GP was first raced in 1928, it only found its current home of Melbourne in 1996. Prior to this, it was hosted in Adelaide, and was usually the last race on the F1 calendar.
Lewis Hamilton won the race this year, and both 2014 and 2015 were taken by Mercedes AMG Petronas as Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg won last year. The Grand Prix itself has only been a part of the World Championship since 1985, with French racing legend Alain Prost the only racer to have won it both as part of the World Championships and not.
In the modern era, Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver at the track. The German, arguably the greatest driver of all time, has won the race at the venue a whopping 4 times – consecutively for three years from 2000 to 2002, and then again in 2004, each time with Scuderia Ferrari.
McLaren, which has been having a dismal season season so far, has historically been one of the sport’s most successful teams, and the team has won 12 times at the track, including victories prior to its inclusion in the Formula One calendar.
Schumacher also holds the record for the fastest lap in the circuit’s GP history – 1:24.125, which he set at the 2004 Grand Prix.
Following most teams confirming their drivers for next season – among them Force India (who renewed the contracts of Nico Hulkenberg and teammate Sergio Perez), Scuderia Ferrari (who renewed Kimi Raikkonen’s expiring contract) and Williams (who announced both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa would stay through 2016), there look to be no other major changes to F1.
It is likely, however, that the Italian Grand Prix at Monza will no longer be on the calendar from next year due to financial issues, and will be replaced by Imola, which was the venue for the San Marino Grand Prix until it was dropped in 2006. In addition, a new team, Haas, will join next year, and McLaren are yet to announce their lineup.