Recently, the Adelaide Advertiser reported that the Adelaide City Council expressed its desire to have Formula One return to the streets of Adelaide. Australia was first introduced to the F1 calendar in 1985 at the Adelaide Street Circuit. Formula One regularly visited South Australia since then. Notable winners were Keke Rosberg, Alain Prost, Gerhard Berger, Thierry Boutsen, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna and Damon Hill. But with Melbourne as the current season opener, will Adelaide fight for the title of F1’s ideal season opener?
From 1996 onwards, Melbourne took over as the new host of the Australian GP. “There’s a certain nostalgia that the grand prix brings and I think everyone in the room is old enough to remember the halcyon days so I’m glad that the council will write to the State Government and at least indicate that we’d like this explored,” councillor Alex Antic said of the possibility of the Adelaide GP being revived. Although Formula One does not visit the street circuit anymore, it still hosts the V8 Supercars Championship around a shortened circuit.
Melbourne’s contract runs up till 2023 and Adelaide are keen to step in. But the Council will face stiff opposition from South Australian Tourism Minister Leon Bignell who has already quashed the idea and labelled the Adelaide City Council “clowns”.
“These are the most infuriating people in South Australia, this city council,” said Bignell. “If they want the grand prix, how about they put in some money so we can get the grandstands up a bit quicker, which will make their rate payers happy. Let’s have a look at Bathurst — their council put in $6 million in the [Supercars] race. These clowns put in $50,000 and charge us $100,000. They are big on complaining but not putting their hands in their pockets to help their ratepayers. We’re not interested.”
Some drivers has voiced their preferences for F1’s ideal season opener. Former F1 driver Max Chilton says “It’s not an easy choice. Melbourne is a nice half-street circuit where I’ve raced, while Adelaide has so many iconic images attached to it, but is really an event I’ve only ever seen on the TV. Melbourne is a good home for the Australian Grand Prix and has been for 20 years. It’s a great location too; on the coast with a river running through what is a really nice, clean, modern city. But I’ve never felt the kind of electricity in the atmosphere that you get at some other circuits. I’m told Adelaide had that, so for that reason, and because I’d loved to have raced a grand prix car there, I’d go for Adelaide.”
Another ex Formula One driver Tiago Monteiro says “I’m going to sound biased here, but I have to choose Melbourne, not only because I never raced at Adelaide, but because Melbourne was where I made my Formula One race debut in 2005. It’s a fantastic city that comes alive for the grand prix and the circuit has an amazing backdrop with the half-street, half-permanent circuit feel, the parkland setting and the lake.”
“The circuit is a bit make-and-do, but that only adds to the appeal. It has some good and some not-so-good corners, it’s very bumpy, and there’s usually quite a low grip level, so it’s not my favourite track from a strictly driving point of view. In 2010, I was one of 18 international drivers invited to take part in the V8 Supercar ‘Gold Coast 600’ event, along with guys like Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Sébastien Bourdais and Yvan Muller, and all the regular series drivers I spoke to said that Adelaide was better, both as an F1 venue and, nowadays, for the V8 Supercar season-opener held there every year.”
Mark Blundell prefers Adelaide as F1’s ideal season opener because he raced there many times and he also liked the fact that it was a small city, but the whole place just embraced the sport for a week every year. It created one of the best vibes he ever felt in any town when a big sporting event’s been on. He raced at the very last Australian Grand Prix held there in 1995 for McLaren, but that race has mixed memories for him.
What about you? what circuit would be F1’s ideal season opener? Sound off in the comments below.