Championship status for Albert Park
- By Stefan Bartholomaeus
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
The Supercars races at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix will carry championship points for the first time next season, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation has announced.
The long-awaited news has been confirmed alongside a new six-year deal that will see Supercars at Albert Park until at least 2023.
Supercars has raced at Albert Park 21 times since 1996, always in a non-championship capacity.
The breakthrough agreement follows last year’s takeover of Formula 1’s commercial rights by American group Liberty Media, which raised hopes a deal could finally be reached.
While a race format is yet to be confirmed, Supercars CEO James Warburton said that championship status will better showcase the category to the world.
“This fantastic opportunity to host championship races at the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit will further showcase Supercars on the world-stage,” Warburton said.
“I am delighted to say that thanks to the hard work and perseverance of the AGPC, and the foresight of Formula 1, it is now a reality.
“A championship round and the six-year contract extension through to 2023 will be warmly received by our fans and add a new dimension to the event.”
A long-time supporter of the push for points, AGPC CEO Andrew Westacott said that getting the deal over the line is a boost for the event.
“We continually listen to our fans and there has been a strong appetite for a Supercars Championship round, so we see the partnership as a highly beneficial one and we are excited to bring this opportunity to fruition,” Westacott said.
“It has also been great to have the support of Formula 1 and the can-do attitude of Supercars to help bring it all together and work towards creating an even better event for 2018 and beyond.”
Minister for Tourism and Major Events, The Hon. John Eren added his enthusiasm for the upgrade in status.
“The introduction of a Supercars Championship round will increase local and international interest and shine the spotlight on the city of Melbourne and the fantastic sporting events we consistently host,” Minister John Eren said.
“In addition to the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Supercars Championship will add to the spectacle of competitive racing and the fan experience at this world-class event.”
A date for the 2018 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Supercars race format will be confirmed in the coming months.