Australian Grand Prix loses front row spot on Formula One calendar

Melbourne has lost pole position as the first race on the Formula One calendar.


Next year’s Australian Grand Prix has been bumped, losing its starting status to Bahrain.

Confirmation of the calendar is not expected until August, but grand prix insiders are already convinced the Bahrain race will run on March 2 with the Australian event at Albert Park to follow on March 16.

The change is being made to suit global television programming, with the Middle East event to be broadcast at a time that’s more attractive to Formula One fans in the sport’s European heartland.

Organisers of the Melbourne event say they are happy to have their race weekend from March 13-16 because it suits the packed events calendar at that time, including Moomba and the start of the AFL season.

“Our preference is to retain the third weekend in March,” Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott said.

Mr Westacott said he didn’t expect any calendar change to affect crowd numbers.

In 2006, the Albert Park race was pushed back to accommodate the Commonwealth Games.

“The grand prix ran on the first weekend in April and estimated attendance remained strong with crowds in excess of 300,000,” Mr Westacott said.

“This will be the 19th running of the race in Melbourne with a traditional timeslot in mid to late March.

“The AGP is now cemented on the major events calendar in Melbourne.”

Mr Westacott also believes the grand prix is on an upward spiral approaching its 20th anniversary.

“Both attendance and revenues have shown strong growth over the past five years,” he said.

Without confirmation from the FIA, it is impossible to know details of the change for 2014, but there has been long-term pressure on Melbourne due to the timing of TV feedback to Europe.

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