Australia 'as important as Monaco' - Ecclestone

By on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mar.16 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone insists he still values the Australian grand prix.

The F1 chief executive's comments follow hot on the heels of those of FIA president Jean Todt, who said in Melbourne this week that the city's race "is important".

Amid the local debate about the cost of the annual Albert Park event, Ecclestone had said recently that F1 "does not need" Australia.

But the 80-year-old Briton apparently now agrees with Todt that the race is important, and is open to talks with the Victorian state premier Ted Baillieu.

"Australia is just as important to us as Monaco and has been for an awful long time, so we hate to think that we were going to lose Australia," Ecclestone said during an interview with the Herald Sun.

"We have been together a long time and it's like one of those long marriages; it would be bad to end in divorce," he added. "But 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," said Ecclestone.

Ecclestone also admitted he regrets not pushing Melbourne to build a permanent venue for the grand prix ten years ago because doing it then "would have been cheaper than today".

But as for whether that could happen now before a new deal is signed in 2015, he answered: "Of course we would (consider it)."

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