South Australia’s premier Steven Marshall has said South Australia is ready to host the Australian Grand Prix as early as next year should Victoria continue to wrestle its Covid-19 outbreak, with Tailem Bend primed as the likely candidate.
Adelaide is no stranger from F1 having staged the first Australian round of the world championship on an extended Parklands Street Circuit used today in the Supercars championship first in 1985.
The event was the traditional season finale until the 1995 season where it was moved to Albert Park in Melbourne the following the year where it has remained since acting as the opening round every year baring 2006 and 2010.
Australia thus became the first country to host back-to-back rounds of the world championship, a record only matched this year amid a haphazard season with multiple doubleheaders and consecutive races on the same circuit.
Victoria and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation have remained coy on their details for hosting the event in 2021 amid the outbreak in the wider Melbourne area which remains under strict lockdown as cases continue to fluctuate to new peaks.
However, with AGP promoters certain the event will feature on the 2021 calendar, it has led to rival states and circuits admitting their eagerness to snare the hosting rights. The latest being Tailem Bend which premier Marshall believes is the perfect venue if Melbourne is forced to waive the 2021 event.
“We’re not going over to poach, but we stand ready with a fantastic track in South Australia,” he said.
“We don’t have the ability to put together a street circuit which would be suitable for Formula One, so the only option for the grand prix to come to South Australia would be at The Bend.”
Marshall said his state government are analysing how such an event could be economically viable.
But he did concede the plan will have to “stack up” from a financial perspective.
“We don’t have buckets and buckets of cash lying around,” the premier said.
“But to bring quality events to South Australia that promote economic activity and get our economy moving again, is exactly what we’re looking at.”
Circuit owner of The Bend, Dr Sam Shahin, supported the claims of the premier and suggested he will definitely be targeting hosting the Grand Prix next year.
“We will definitely be thinking about putting our hand up,” he said on the FIVEaa Breakfast show.
“The Bend Motorsport Park is a very unique development. There is nothing on the planet that resembles it. There is no facility like it anywhere in the world. After 12 months of operation, it won 2019 international motorsport facility of the year.
“The short answer is it can hold a Formula 1 event if we get the opportunity. There will be work that needs to be done but none of it is beyond us.
“We’ve shown that we’re not afraid of putting our hat in the ring and taking on a challenge so why not.”
South Australia will also learn this week if its bid to host the AFL Grand Final from the Adelaide Oval this year has been successful.
There is also growing momentum for the state to host the Boxing Day Test between Australia and India if the event cannot be held at the MCG.
South Australia has only recorded 463 cases of Covid-19 since the first outbreak with only 1 active case across the entire state.
Ultimately, mass gathering limits in South Australia are more relaxed than Victoria which yesterday reported 73 new cases and a record-high 41 deaths in 24 hours.
Thus, an Australian Grand Prix in South Australia could entice the financial interests of AGPC who continue to feel the economic aftershocks of its cancelled 2020 event at the eleventh hour back in March.
The Bend also received confirmation this week it will host back-to-back rounds of the Supercars Championship on September 19-20 and 26-27 having been cut from an earlier calendar revision.