South Australia has put its hand up as a potential surrogate host for the 2021 Australian Grand Prix should the ongoing coronavirus crisis force organisers to cancel a second consecutive F1 race at Melbourne's Albert Park.
SA premier Steven Marshall said the state doesn’t have ‘buckets of cash’ to pour into the event, but if hosting Formula One in 2021 made commercial sense then the they would look at it.
Marshall explained that The Bend Motorsport Park east of Adelaide was a perfect venue to host a Formula One grand prix event, and spruiked the two-year-old track as "one of the very best racing circuits globally".
Rumours that Adelaide has been planning to snatch back the rights to host the iconic race have from Melbourne have been circulating for years, but the premier was quick to point out that the arrangement would only be a one-off.
“We're not going over to poach, but we stand ready with a fantastic track in South Australia," Marshall said.
"We don't have the ability to put together a street circuit which would be suitable for Formula One, so the only option for the grand prix to come to South Australia would be at The Bend.
"To bring quality events to South Australia that promote economic activity and get our economy moving again, is exactly what we're looking at."
The Bend Motorsport Park layout
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The premier's comments follow a recent push for the state to host more sporting events including yesterday's announcement that two rounds of the 2020 Supercars Championship will be hosted at The Bend in September, and South Australia is awaiting confirmation of its bid to host the AFL grand final.
The state is also keen to host the Boxing Day Test, if it cannot be held at the MCG, and The Bend’s owners, the Shahin family, are equally keen to host the Australian Grand Prix.
Some adjustments would have to be made to the track to accommodate F1's incredible speed, but the track’s managing director Sam Shahin said the track was capable of catering for all F1 demands.
"The answer is we will throw our hat in the ring and throw it again and again and again until there is a real opportunity," Shahin said.
The Australian Grand Prix was formerly held in South Australia on the Adelaide street circuit between 1985 and 1995, before moving to Melbourne for the end of the 1996 season.
Coronavirus notwithstanding, the Victorian government holds a contract with Formula One to host the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne until 2025.
That said, coronavirus has spoiled a lot of plans particularly in motorsport spheres so who knows where the 2021 Australian Grand Prix will end up?