Formula 1 commercial rights manager Bernie Ecclestone has said he will not stand in Australia's way if the country wants to get rid of its grand prix.
In the wake of comments from Melbourne's lord mayor Robert Doyle last week that suggested the city could no longer afford the huge cost of the race, Ecclestone has responded by saying that he was open to discussing the issue. In an interview with an Australian radio station, Ecclestone said that he would not break Melbourne's current deal, which runs until 2015, but if the organizers wanted to discuss parting terms before then, he would be open to it.
"If the mayor thinks I'm cranky, I can probably be able to help him by proving it," said Ecclestone. "If he's not happy with the event in Australia, if he wants to cancel the contract, we'd be happy to talk to him about that. If he wishes to cease having the event in Melbourne, I am happy to discuss that with him."
He added: "We have a contract – we don't break contracts."
Ecclestone admitted some surprise at the mayor's sentiments, as he previously believed there was huge backing for the event to continue in Albert Park.
"We have always been happy because I've always thought we had big, big support in Melbourne," he said. "The only thing is the mayor doubts it.''