Cancelled 2020 Australian GP cost government over £22 million

2020 F1 season

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Last year’s cancelled Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne cost the Victorian state government almost AUS $40 million (£22.5 million).

While this expenditure represented a reduction of over one-third compared to the year before, the 11th-hour decision to call the event off meant there was little marketing benefit to be gained from it.

The four-day event began as planned on Thursday 12th March last year when support races took place. However faced with the growing spread of the pandemic, and the first positive case identified within the F1 paddock at McLaren, the cancellation of the race weekend was announced on Friday morning as spectators began to arrive.

According to financial results issued by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, the 25th running of the race had seen an increase in ticket sales compared to the preceding year, which had been the best for the race since 2005. Refunds were offered to fans following the cancellation.

The race takes place on a temporary circuit laid out in Albert Park. Almost AUS $50m (£28.2m) was spent on the event before its cancellation. Afterwards, unused food was distributed to those in need locally and the track’s medical centre was used as part of the Covid-19 relief efforts in the area.

The corporation was also hit by the cancellation of its Moto GP round which was due to take place in October.

Start, Albert Park, 2019
Revised 2021 F1 calendar
The AGPC faces further disruption this year. The Australian Grand Prix was due to open the 2021 F1 season, but has been postponed to a November date due to the continuing pandemic, which has now claimed over two million lives worldwide, and over 900 in Australia.

“AGPC is progressing plans for the 2021 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix under a range of scenarios to ensure the safety of participants, staff, contractors and attendees,” said the report.

The corporation also provided consulting services for Vietnam’s first grand prix, which was due to take place last season, but was also cancelled. It has not been included on the 2021 F1 calendar.

Which teams lost the most and least from Formula 1’s disrupted 2020 season? Find out in the new edition of the RacingLines column today on RaceFans

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2020 F1 season

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “Cancelled 2020 Australian GP cost government over £22 million”

  1. I reallly wonder whether they are even going to bother build up the grandstands for November. And if they do, would it make sense to take them down again before building them up for the 2022 race?

    It really shows how street races are a tough one currently.

    1. @bascb They have to because temporary tracks need spectator attendance to cover the costs of the build-up process. As for the latter point: I brought this up before and got an answer from another user, which seems plausible. The only viable way of holding the Australian GP twice in roughly a period of four months would be if all or at least most of the temporary structures could stay in place throughout the interval from November to March.
      Here’s to link to the article where I got replied: https://www.racefans.net/2021/01/13/australian-gp-promoter-wants-return-to-season-opening-date-in-2022-after-postponement/

      1. I get that they need that to break even – or rather not have a hundred million of losses, if we look at their net results for the last few years @jerejj.

        The question will be whether in November the rate of vaccination will be high enough that an event can be done with hundreds of thousands in the grandstands. They will either have to drop this even in time to avoid the buildup in the first place, or face huge losses if not.

        1. I mean, in the EU it’s almost certainly going to be. I assume the same will be the case for Australia.

          Like most people over 20 should be vaccinated in the EU by this fall, if they want to be. So I’d expect F1 team personnel to be well covered by then.

          1. Depends on the efficacy of the vaccine.
            If a vaccinated person can still be a carrier, nothing has changed.

    2. There will be no race in Australia in November. The idea is absurd. There will be no races in Asia.

      1. I share your sceptisicm Dean.

      2. @Dean Franklin Bahrain and the UAE are in Asia, and they managed to hold a race last year. Saudia Arabia as well, but too early to judge this far in advance. The same goes for Singapore and Japan.

  2. Why does the headline use British pounds? I was under the impression that this is intended to be an international motorsport news website, rather than one aimed merely at the UK.

    1. @aapje Sometimes pounds, sometimes USD, sometimes euros.

      1. I think that it makes most sense to report it in the same currency that was used. In this case, that would be AUS $.

        1. @aapje 🙄

          Does… it… really… matter…?

  3. It will be interesting to see what happens with this as the Australian open is copping a huge amount of criticism and it’s not costing the public. The cost of the delayed GP will not go down well also there is some behind the scenes talk about the actual numbers of spectators turning up, as in the promoter may be talking up the numbers ‘slightly’. Several authority’s monitor the movement of people over the GP weekend and they have quite different numbers.

  4. Considering how the Victorian economy has been decimated by COVID lockdowns (they had longer lockdowns that most), I’m not sure if attempting to put on a race is a good idea. I’d say its a big risk.

    Sure we’ve just completed the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series successfully in Adelaide-Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane, as the virus has been largely under control as things stand…but the situation can escalate very quickly.

    Lets hope for the best. It probably best to revisit this in our winter and see how the we deal with the virus, because if Victoria (and other states for that matter) go in lockdown again, possibly best not put the race on. Lets aim for 2022.

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