Melbourne, March 4 (IANS) The people of Victoria, the home state of the Australian Grand Prix, have opposed the idea of trying a night race for the annual Formula One (F1) season opener, due to be held on March 20 here.
In a national survey commissioned by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, around one-third (30 percent) of those polled were against the plan to run the F1 Grand Prix at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit under lights, reports Xinhua.
But there was some support for the idea, with a touch more than one-fifth (21 percent) of respondents in favour of giving the concept a chance.
International leaders of the sport, including F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, have been pushing the idea for several years, looking to shift the start time of the race back several hours to make it more viewer friendly for overseas fans.
But on the basis of the new figures, Australian Grand Prix chairman John Harnden said the organisers will stick by Albert Park’s traditional day format.
“There is always debate about a night race but we’re not going to have a night race,” Harnden told News Corp in comments published on Friday.
Last year, out-going Australian Grand Prix chairman Ron Walker outlined the body’s main issues with changing to a night setting.
“The (Australian) executives wouldn’t come because it’s too late, the kids wouldn’t come, you would have to illuminate the whole park at a cost of 70 million Australian dollars ($51.5 million),” he said.
“Our TV audience would go up but the legacy would be diminished so we’re not going to do that.”
Australian F1 star Daniel Ricciardo has been totally behind the concept, with the three-time Grand Prix winner revealing he preferred night races and thought it may lead to an improved atmosphere at his home circuit.
Mirroring Ricciardo’s attitude, the survey showed other states were more open to the night-time feature race.
Overall, less than a quarter of the 1247 people surveyed were against the night race, while the regions of South Australia and the Northern Territory were mostly for the idea (29 percent for, 21 percent against, 50 percent unsure).
Last year, the Victorian government fended off renewed interest from New South Wales to poach the race, signing a new contract to keep the Grand Prix in Melbourne until at least 2023 for an undisclosed fee.
F1 drivers and teams will descend on Melbourne in two weeks time to kick-off their 2016 campaign.