Is it time to take the Australian Grand Prix on the road?

Each March, save this one, the Formula 1 circus reaches the streets of Melbourne to open the racing season.

Like clockwork, stories pop up of complaints from residents and politicians that the Grand Prix is a waste of money, a strain on local infrastructure, or just too loud.

Formula 1’s extortionate race-hosting fees – somewhere in the realm of tens of millions of dollars – certainly gives those complaints a leg to stand on.

Financially speaking, the Grand Prix doesn’t always present a return on investment. A huge sum of money gets pumped into the event and despite a deluge of visitors descending on Melbourne, money isn’t necessarily made on the event.

In this age of constant financial belt-tightening, how much longer can Victoria afford to host the event every year?

Furthermore, seldom does this race leave fans on the edge of their seats. The Albert Park circuit is hardly conducive to overtaking and rarely does it make for thrilling racing. There has been talk of modifying the track, but those changes have yet to materialise.

With all this in mind, an alternative presents itself.

Why not take the Australian Grand Prix around the country? Why not have a race in Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, or even back in Adelaide?

Why not have different cities host the race each year to share the financial burden and keep things fresh?

We’ve seen it overseas.

Germany, the home of six-time world champions Mercedes, has in recent times shared its Grand Prix between two venues, Hockenheim and the Nürburgring.

With the burden of licensing costs, the circuits shared the Grand Prix until 2015, when the latter dropped out.

Since, Hockenheim has been unable to consistently host the event. Despite a brilliant race in 2019 it appears the whole event is completely off the table, at least for now.

The collective financial inability to host the Grand Prix certainly needs addressing, but if a race-sharing agreement worked, at least for a few years, why couldn’t it happen here?

There’s no shortage of spots to hold the Grand Prix.

The New South Wales government has reportedly attempted to bring the event to Sydney. When the current contract comes up for renewal, that could be on the cards yet again.

If fans are after a slightly more tropical, tourist-oriented Australian Grand Prix, Brisbane’s a strong contender. Perth can also play the tourism drawcard as a viable, albeit isolated, alternative.

Before the race moved to Melbourne, it was Adelaide that hosted the Australian Grand Prix from 1985-1995, and the City of Churches is another viable alternative. The Victoria Park circuit was a fan and driver favourite; a big cap on often eventful seasons.

While there isn’t currently the political will in South Australia to bring the race back to Adelaide, the possibility of the flashy new Bend circuit hosting the event is certainly worth keeping in mind.

Melbourne, at it consistently claims, is the country’s sporting capital. With its hands on the Australian Open, Boxing Day cricket and the AFL Grand Final, it’s hardly as if tourism will be left in the doldrums should the race move around.

With declining Australian interest in F1, a bit of variety would certainly bring the spotlight back onto the sport and boost visitor numbers dramatically.

It would require plenty of adjustments, but this path is a positive alternative to the current stagnation strangling the Australian Grand Prix.

Image by Jayden Turner