Date: 18th March 2011 at 10:01am
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It would appear that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is doing a nice bit of PR ahead of the Formula One circus heading down under.

In recent months there has been growing opposition for the event by local politicians and people living around the Albert Park circuit.

Many claim the event is just too expensive and have called for the contract to either be terminated early or to just not renew it past the current deal that ends in 2015.

Earlier this year, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was less than impressed with comments from Melbourne?s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, which led to the following little outburst. ‘If the mayor thinks I’m cranky, I can probably be able to help him by proving it 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.

However it would now seem that Bernie is trying to win over some of the Australian fans by praising the country and its overall importance to Formula One.

‘Australia is as important to us as Monaco,’ Ecclestone told reuters this week ahead of the 2011 Formula One season opener in Australia in a weeks time.

‘It’s part of the world championship and has been for an awful long time. We’d hate to think that we’re going to lose Australia.

But again Bernie was clear that the event didn’t need the the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne: ‘In the case of Melbourne, if the product is too expensive for them, we understand that and when the contract comes to an end there’s no need to renew it. We wouldn’t force somebody to buy something that they don’t want or think is too expensive.

Cost certainly appears to be the main factor around the event, Michael Danby told Australian parliament earlier this month: ‘The grand prix may have been a good deal in 1996, when it cost the government only $1.7 million; but, with falling crowd numbers and taxpayers footing a $50 million-a-year bill, the government should cut its losses and walk away,’

The Australian Grand Prix has been held in Albert Park since 1996 when the event switched from Adelaide.

The track has been a great hunting ground for British drivers over the past 15 years with Damon Hill, David Coulthard, Eddie Irvine, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button all leaving Australia victorious.

Perhaps the Brits dominance has played its part in the events dwindling attendance figures? We all know how much an Aussie likes to watch us Brits come out on top!

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