The Australian Grand Prix has been given assurances that it will continue to receive the full support of the Victoria government, despite recent doubts about the future of the event.
Speculation about the long-term viability of the Melbourne event surfaced recently after Melbourne's mayor questioned whether the grand prix was good value for the city. However, at an official media launch for the 2011 race, Victoria's state tourism minister Louise Asher said there was no doubting its own commitment.
"The government has supported the grand prix because it is a significant international event which provides branding and tourism value for Victoria," Asher was quoted as saying by the new agency AAP. "In terms of the Baillieu government, we are committed to the grand prix."
Moves are being made to bring down the costs of the race, but the final budget has not yet been finalized for the race. Australian Grand Prix chairman Ron Walker also played down suggestions from F1 commercial rights manager Bernie Ecclestone that he would be willing to end the race's contract early if Melbourne chiefs were not happy.
"I think he had a misunderstanding as to the role Mr. Doyle was playing, because he hasn't met Mr. Baillieu yet," he explained. "He [Ecclestone] has been associated with four premiers since we have had the race, and he was a bit confused as to where the purse strings lay, and he certainly understands that now."