Ecclestone confident of new deal to keep Aussie GP in Melbourne

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F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has told Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper that a new contract to keep Formula One’s season opening race – the Australian Grand Prix – at its current home in Melbourne is close to being completed. The race has been held in the city’s Albert Park since the 1996 season.

When asked if a contract extension would soon be signed, Ecclestone told the Aussie publication: “Yes. Sure, sure, sure. As soon as we get the ­lawyers sorted.” The current contract runs through the 2015 season.

Ecclestone has long favored keeping the Australian round of his World Championship in Melbourne, mentioning last year that he wanted to have the city on the schedule for another 50 years.

The price tag for the event has gone north of $50 million, however, keeping the race centered in public debate over its worth.

And while the race’s chairman, Ron Walker, is confident that Albert Park will host the race through at least 2020, the local government wants those operating costs to be reduced by a noticeable margin.

For his part, Ecclestone believes that the money aspect has been taken care of.

“I think that’s all been sorted,” he said. “It’s just the bits and pieces. [A new deal] will happen…Ron and I know what we’re doing, which is important and then we get the rest of it all together.”

He added his hope that a new deal would be signed before this year’s season opener, saying “there is no reason why it shouldn’t be.”

Ferrari junior Ilott victorious in Macau F3 qualification race

Theodore Racing
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Ferrari Driver Academy member Callum Ilott will start the 64th Macau Grand Prix from pole position after beating his Formula 3 rivals to victory in Saturday’s qualification race.

Ilott, 19, started third on the grid on Saturday behind pole-sitter Joel Eriksson and McLaren junior Lando Norris, but made a good start to rise to second early on.

Ilott hounded Eriksson for position for much of the race before battling past at Mandarin on Lap 7 as his Swedish rival struggled to keep his tires alive.

With Eriksson unable to respond, Ilott ultimately crossed the line more than seven seconds clear to take his first Macau win and secure pole for Sunday’s main event.

“We started quite strong as I got up to second from third which was not too bad. Then in the middle part of the race I had a good pace and I got past Joel for P1,” Ilott said.

“After that I managed to pull away. It was a good race, even quite relaxing at the end. I’m really happy for the result. Thank you SJM Theodore Racing by Prema, they did a great job and it should be good for tomorrow too.”

Eriksson held on to second ahead of Sergio Sette Camara, who completed the podium ahead of Maximilian Günther in P4.

Ferdinand Habsburg finished fifth ahead of Pedro Piquet, while Norris was left to settle for a lowly P7 after a clutch issue off the line caused him to drop down the order.

You can see full results from the Macau F3 qualifying race here.