Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One commercial rights holder, appears ready to axe the Australian Grand Prix unless it becomes a night race. The 81-year-old is prepared to honour the contract with the organisers at Melbourne's Albert Park that runs through to 2015, but beyond that the stakes are likely be raised.
Ecclestone said the race is "probably the least viable of all the races we have" given the time difference to the European market, and with other venues waiting in the wings. "We have a contract which we will respect, so up until 2015 we are in good shape," Ecclestone said. "
"After then, we really don't know. If we were to have a divorce from our friends in Melbourne we would probably be walking away from Australia. Because I can't see how Adelaide could make it [a night race] happen, or anywhere else, if Melbourne can't.
"We have other races ready to take the place of Australia, which we don't want to happen. But it would be wrong of me to have to report to our board: 'Terribly sorry about this but we have to walk away from wherever to retain Australia.'"
Ecclestone's posturing could be the final straw for Melbourne in particular as city officials have long complained about the financial losses incurred in recent years.
Given the additional costs required to install lighting, such as that currently used in Singapore, it is likely that would be too much for taxpayers to absorb.