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'Australia as important as Monaco' - Ecclestone

ESPNF1 Staff
March 16, 2011 « No risk of spectator confusion over rear wings - Whiting | »
Bernie Ecclestone would like to see Australia stay on the Formula One calendar © Getty Images

Bernie Ecclestone has backtracked over previous comments that Formula One "does not need" Australia, by naming the grand prix as one of the most important on the calendar.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said in January that the cost of hosting the race was too high for the city, and that it should not renew its contract when it expires in 2015. Ecclestone responded by saying the sport didn't need to be in Australia, and that it could be dropped to accommodate new races.

However, after Jean Todt backed Melbourne yesterday, Ecclestone surprisingly agreed with the FIA president.

"Australia is just as important to us as Monaco and has been for an awful long time," said Ecclestone. "So we hate to think that we were going to lose Australia. We have been together a long time and it's like one of those long marriages; it would be bad to end in divorce."

Despite his desire to keep the race, Ecclestone said that he would not be looking to reduce the cost in order for Albert Park to stay on the calendar.

"If the other partner wishes, we wouldn't start fighting. In the case of Melbourne, if the product is too expensive for them then we understand that. And when the contract comes to an end, there is no need to renew it. We wouldn't force somebody to buy something they don't want."