Formula 1 will continue to race at Albert Park for the next 13 years following the signing of a contract extension with the Australian Grand Prix through to 2035.
Formula 1 has signed a new ten-year contract extension with the Australian Grand Prix, keeping Albert Park on the calendar until at least 2035. The future of the Australian Grand Prix was already secure until at least 2025, with race organisers having last signed a new contract in July 2019.
Under its new deal, Formula 2 and Formula 3 will join the event’s stellar support race line up and race organisers will invest more money to improve the experience for both fans and teams. The event is also expected to return to the season-opening slot on the F1 calendar for at least five of the next thirteen seasons.
The announcement comes following speculation in 2021 over a rival bid from Sydney to host the Australian Grand Prix in their city.
Record-breaking 2022 attendance
The Albert Park circuit was revamped ahead of the 2022 race, with the widening of corners and removal of chicanes in a bid to improve the show and increase overtaking opportunities. The race weekend was attended by almost 420,000 fans over four days. That made it the best-attended Australian Grand Prix since F1 first visited Melbourne in 1996. Multiple new grandstands were built for the 2022 race to cater to demand for tickets.
As well as continuing to improve the trackside experience for fans, circuit bosses have promised the modernisation of their facilities for teams over the next decade. Speaking about the contract, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said that he is looking forward to seeing the sport continue to grow in Australia under the new deal:
“I am delighted to confirm that Melbourne and the Albert Park circuit will continue to be on the Formula 1 calendar until 2035. The race has always been a favourite for the fans, drivers and the teams and Melbourne is an incredible and vibrant international city that is a perfect match for our sport. This year we saw huge crowds and passionate fans at the Grand Prix, and we are very excited by the future in Australia as our sport continues to grow.”
Australia to return to season-opening slot
As part of its new deal, the Australian Grand Prix will host the season-opening race at least five times in the next thirteen years. The Albert Park race hosted the season-opener on all but a handful of occasions between 1996 and 2019. The exceptions were 2006 and 2010, when Bahrain took over as the first race of the year.
Melbourne was due to host the first race of the season in 2020 before the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic saw the race weekend cancelled at the last minute.
In 2020, Austria took over as the season-opening race in the first coronavirus-impacted calendar. In both 2021 and 2022, Bahrain took the first race honours. The date of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix is yet to be confirmed but it is not expected to be next year’s season-opener.
However, both the 2024 and 2025 seasons are expected to begin in Australia. This is in part due to the timing of Ramadan, which will prevent Formula 1 from racing in the Middle East around the time of the Bahrain Grand Prix’s usual mid-March slot.
Formula 2 and Formula 3 join the support package
The Australian Grand Prix already has one of the busiest support schedules of the season, with Australian Supercars, Porsche Carrera Cup and S5000 all having raced over the Grand Prix weekend in 2022. From next year, the support package will be bolstered by the addition of both Formula 2 and Formula 3.
It will be the first time that Formula 1’s feeder series have raced in Australia in their modern day format. The 2023 calendars for F1’s support series are yet to be revealed but are likely to be announced around the same time as next year’s F1 calendar emerges.
A new trend in F1 contract extensions
Albert Park has signed the longest contract extension in its history. The latest deal means that Melbourne will have been hosting F1 for 40 years by the last race of the new deal. Albert Park joins a number of other circuits which have recently signed long-term contracts.
Abu Dhabi was first to sign a long term deal in December last year, with Yas Marina Circuit now guaranteed a slot on the schedule until at least 2030. The Singapore Grand Prix followed suit in January, extending its contract through to 2028.
The Bahrain Grand Prix presently holds the longest contract of any circuit, having signed a new deal through to 2036 back in February. Other races to have recently signed shorter term contract extensions include Hungary (until 2027), Texas (until 2026), Spain (until 2026) and Imola (until 2025).
Monaco, France, Belgium and Mexico are the only events on the 2022 calendar which are yet to secure a deal to continue hosting Formula 1 beyond the end of this season.