• Australian Grand Prix

Australian Grand Prix boss hits back at criticism over costs

ESPNF1 Staff
January 24, 2011 « Webber should have hidden injury says Briatore | »

The row over the cost of the Australian Grand Prix rumbles on © Getty Images

Australian Grand Prix boss Ron Walker has slammed Robert Doyle, Melbourne's Lord Mayor, for suggestions Melbourne could turn its back on the event because of rising costs.

In the Herald Sun at the weekend, Doyle said the race no longer represented value for money for the Victorian state taxpayer. He speculated that one possible outcome was that "cranky" Bernie Ecclestone will replace the race by taking "the dollars of either an Asian or oil-rich Middle Eastern state".

"It's a sad thing for the mayor of a major capital city to come out so publicly against a major event like the grand prix," Walker countered, arguing the A$50 million taxpayer bill is only one side of the story.

"On the other side ... there's an economic benefit of around $160 million. All of Mr Doyle's hotels, all of his restaurants do a very good trade. Then of course there's the tax that's collected of about $18 million a year. It's a huge profit for Melbourne."

Also in the wake of Lord Mayor Doyle's comments, new Victorian premier Ted Baillieu admitted that the A$50 million taxpayer bill will need to be reduced if a new deal beyond 2014 is sought.