Australian Grand Prix promoters are confident that they are on course to secure a fresh contract from 2016, following talks with Bernie Ecclestone in Singapore last weekend.
Melbourne's current deal to hold the event runs until 2015, and discussions have begun about an extension. Although the race's future still depends on backing from the local government, Australian GP CEO Andrew Westacott says optimism is increasing because costs of holding the race have started to come down.
"For the first time since the event came to Melbourne, we have reduced the cost from the previous year," Westacott said. "The cost to the taxpayer in 2012 was $56 million, this year it was $50 million.
"We grew revenue by $4 million and we cut expenditure by $2 million. It is a great effort and Melbournians embrace the race. The event has a real place on the calendar."
Despite there being another two years to run under the current contract, Westacott says efforts to sort out the new deal are now being ramped up.
"We have two events still go, but we are starting to look at the future," he said. "We had a meeting [with Ecclestone] here [in Singapore]. We have been working with them for 18 years and there is a good desire from both parties to continue."
HAPPY WITH 2014 DATE
Melbourne will once again host the season opener next year, despite there having been some thought to kicking off the campaign in Bahrain.Westacott said he was not too worried about the slot his race was given, as the key thing was getting the date fixed.
"What was important for Melbourne was that we always wanted to lock in March 16," he said. "Melbourne has so many events in March, that locking in the date for certain is great for sales. If we had to wait for a date later on in the year, that would put us behind in our plans."