Australian GP in jeopardy

The Australian Grand Prix will likely be scrapped if leading teams form a breakaway Formula One series in 2010, Australian F1 race chief Ron Walker has said.

Uncertainty continues to surround the future direction of the sport after the eight-member Formula One Teams Association walked out of a meeting with motor racing’s governing body FIA in Paris recently.

F1’s strongest teams revived their threat to form a breakaway series despite FIA’s insistence a deal could soon be struck to end the long-running saga over regulations. Walker said there would be no point in holding the Melbourne street race if the most famous teams in the competition were not involved.

He said he would advise the Victorian state government, which backs the race, to cancel the event should F1’s leading teams carry out their threat, adding the viability and credibility of the event would be damaged without teams like Ferrari taking part.

“The Grand Prix board would probably say to the (Victorian) Premier it’s too hard,” Walker told a radio station. “You can just imagine if the likes of (Roger) Federer and other major tennis players didn’t turn up to the Australian Open in January or if some of the best horses didn’t come to the Melbourne Cup.

“It’s the same scenario, the superstars sell tickets and if you don’t have the superstars then ticket sales sag.”

Melbourne has an agreement to run the event until 2015 under a five-year licence extension signed last year.

The Australian GP has consistently lost money since its switch to Melbourne from Adelaide in 1996.