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Recent Posting

Night race a non-starter

During the Melbourne Grand Prix last week there was talk of changing the Melbourne F1 race to a night one and one of the reasons given was to run it at a time suitable for the European audience and therefore increase interest and TV ratings.

I see this is as coming up with a solution for a foreign market without considering the local people. This talk was fuelled even more by the low numbers that attended this year's four day event with Saturday's numbers being reported as the second lowest and Sunday's being reported as third lowest night racing is now being touted as a solution to the dwindling number of people coming to Albert Park.

Has anybody thought of the environmental effects, safety of the fans, transport to and from Albert Park and the noise pollution to the residents of St Kilda, South Melbourne and other surrounding suburbs especially on a Sunday night? These are some of the local problems that must be considered first before thinking about some audiences somewhere.

The low numbers are due to a number reasons and this year the lack of V8 racing was a major one. The good weather on the day could also have had an effect with people deciding to do other things instead.

I am surprised that Bernie Ecclestone could talk about boosting audiences in Europe and Asia. What about Australia's audiences? Network Ten, the Australian F1 broadcaster produces a very good production of the Melbourne Grand Prix with blanket coverage especially on Sunday which is good. The problem is that this is the only race we will then see live as nearly all the other races are shown delayed. Why can't Ecclestone fight for us to get live races as well?

We don't need the European races time to be changed because European races start at 10 pm Melbourne time which is an ideal time but Network Ten decides to show these races at around 11.30 pm and the delayed race with its load of commercials goes into the early hours of the morning. The question is then why can't the Australian audience also watch F1 live?

I think this is also one of the reasons why people are getting put off by F1 because they never get to watch it live throughout the season. The Europeans may miss three races because of inconvenient time of coverage but we miss at least 16 because they are not shown live at all.

Back to night racing. Night races are not on for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's not convenient for families with young children. Imagine if the race starts at around 8 pm and you would expect it to finish at around 9.30 pm and this is on a Sunday evening. This means some people will get home as late as midnight and added to that the following day is a school day.

Albert Park is not like the MCG or Telstra Dome for example where there is train and tram network nearby and therefore its easy to leave once an event is finished. Those shuttle buses and trains are not good enough especially at night and you are talking about more than 100,000 people here.

The ticket prices of F1 must be kept reasonable and this year $99 was needed for general admission and hopefully the price will remain the same next year or maybe slightly increased to cater for inflation.

A lot of people follow V8 racing because it's local racing and a lot of people can identify with it and so this must be brought back to Albert Park to get more people past the turnstiles. You just can't ignore the importance of the V8s to the carnival.

To sum it up all, the organisers of the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix must champion for Australians to get live coverage of F1 first so that they can keep an interest in the sport throughout the season and when the it comes to Melbourne they will turn out in large numbers.