Late start secures Melbourne race

The Australian Grand Prix has been saved after the Melbourne authorities agreed to start the race at 5pm in the future. Bernie Ecclestone had been looking for an even later start and had made it clear that without a change, the race would be off the calendar. On the same day that he signed a contract with Donington for 2010, Ecclestone agreed an extension of Melbourne’s deal on the basis of a compromised late afternoon start.

“I’ve extended their contract and from next year onwards the race will start at 5pm,” Ecclestone told Motor Sport at the British GP. “So it will be 7am in the UK and 8am in Europe.”

Ecclestone also confirmed that the race nearly lost its slot: “They would have been off. It was close enough that we only signed the contract yesterday evening. They would have been gone if they hadn’t changed.”