New F1 ownership key to Supercars Grand Prix points deal

The deal for Supercars to race for championship points at the Australian Grand Prix is unlikely to have happened without Liberty Media taking over F1, according to AGPC and Supercars chiefs.

New F1 ownership key to Supercars Grand Prix points deal
Steering wheel of James Courtney, Holden Racing Team
Chaz Mostert, Rod Nash Racing Ford
Fabian Coulthard, Team Penske Ford, Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
James Courtney, Holden Racing Team
Fabian Coulthard, Team Penske Ford, Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Simona de Silvestro, Nissan Motorsports, Jean Todt, FIA president
Mark Winterbottom, Prodrive Racing Australia Ford
James Moffat, Garry Rogers Motorsport
Fabian Coulthard, Team Penske Ford

Both the series and the event have long fought for Supercars to race for championship points at Albert Park, only to be blocked by Formula One Management despite hurdles such as clashing television deals and a lack of a dedicated pitlane being cleared.

Following positive talks with new owners Liberty during the Australian Grand Prix earlier this year, it was last week confirmed that a breakthrough new deal will see Supercars race for points at the event until 2023.

According to Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott, Liberty’s open mind played a huge part in putting the deal together, with the new owners more focussed on the event as a whole rather than just F1.

“It’s a change of emphasis,” Westacott told Motorsport.com.

“The focus now is on four things – fan experience, partnerships, Formula 1, and a digital approach.

“The emphasis previously has been very much Formula 1, which is the right thing to do, but we want to broaden the fan base, make the event more and more popular, and this is a great way of doing it.

“The new management, Chase [Carey], Sean [Bratches], and Ross [Brawn] are recognising that there are needs across every country to cater for local conditions.

“This is a wonderful example of that level of support, and we’re very excited about it.”

Supercars CEO James Warburton agreed that the deal probably wouldn’t have gone ahead without Liberty.

“It’s not just related to Supercars, the general feeling and expression that they’ve given is that they’re about events and they’re about promoters,” he said.

“So I think when a promoter wants it, and it’s good for the event, it’s good for the show, then that’s good for them too.

“That’s the approach, and that’s refreshing.”

Deal gives races ‘credibility’

With the AGP weekend one of the most high-profile on the Supercars calendar even without championship points, 2015 series champion Mark Winterbottom reckons making it a full-blown round will add credibility to the event.

The Prodrive Racing star says racing on such a big stage, but not for points, was confusing for casual followers.

“The worst part is that you race, and you’ve got friends and family there, and it’s hard to explain why you’re racing,” he said.

“It creates uncertainty about what’s going on.With championship races it’s a case of we’re racing there, it’s part of the calendar, that simple.

“It gives credibility.”

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