Hear this morning Sydney wants to poach the grand prix off Melbourne when Victoria’s current contract with Bernie expires in 2020?
It’s a crock, for three reasons.
First, this is not new. In 2008, I was a reporter at MOTOR’s sister mag Auto Action and interviewed then-Premier Morris Iemma. He said – surprise, surprise – he would try to get a Sydney Grand Prix off the ground.
Iemma told Auto Action Sydney could hold a night race at Eastern Creek. Imagine how that would’ve gone down with F1’s glitterati if the wind was blowing the wrong way that day. Anyone who’s ever been to Eastern Creek will know what I mean.
Seven years later, has a Sydney Grand Prix transpired? Of course not. It was political claptrap.
Which brings us to reason number two: there’s a state election in NSW in just a few weeks and, despite being ahead in the polls as I write this, Premier Mike Baird and the Coalition will still be shaken by the devastating defeats in the recent Victorian and Queensland state elections.
Premier Baird declaring Sydney’s bid for an F1 race – the day before the Melbourne Grand Prix weekend – borders dangerously close to a brownie-point-grab with voters.
Reason number three there won’t be a Sydney Grand Prix: logistics. A street race around Sydney’s CBD, shutting down the Harbour Bridge and the city’s north, would plunge the nation’s biggest city into chaos.
Don’t get me wrong, it would be unbelievably cool to see grand prix cars race across the Harbour Bridge, through a tight and twisty street circuit including the Cahill Expressway corkscrew on-ramp. It would be effing awesome, actually.
But like the folks who moved next to Luna Park and complained about the noisy rollercoaster that had been there decades, I suspect most Sydneysiders would greet a grand prix with their typical apathy rather than enthusiasm.
As a Sydneysider myself, and knowing my brethren well, I suspect more people would complain about the race and resent the inconvenience it could cause them, rather than embracing it as Adelaide did.
Melbourne deserves to keep the grand prix because while Victorians don’t get behind the race quite as madly as the South Aussies did, Albert Park is a great track supported by good public transport with plenty of space for punters to roam around.
It’s a stone’s throw from the Melbourne CBD, too, without causing apocalyptic traffic disruptions the sort you’d get from a Sydney CBD street race.
Keep the grand prix in Melbourne, I say. Not that there’s any real risk of it leaving.
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