Australian Grand Prix faces axe, warns Bernie Ecclestone

You're on borrowed time! Bernie warns that Australia could lose its grand prix after 2015 race

Bernie Ecclestone has warned that the Australian Grand Prix faces being axed from the Formula One calendar.

Melbourne’s Albert Park, which is set to host this season’s curtain raiser in a fortnight's time, has a contract until 2015.

But Ecclestone says the sport is prepared to end its 30-year association with Australia, calling it the 'least viable' race on the calendar.

A lovely sight: Melbourne's Albert Park will stage the first race of the new season

A lovely sight: Melbourne's Albert Park will stage the first race of the new season

'We have a contract which we will
respect – so up until 2015 we are in good shape,' Ecclestone, 81, told
Melbourne newspaper The Age.

'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 happen, or anywhere else, if
Melbourne can’t. The race itself, from our point of view, is probably
the least viable of all the races we have.'

End of the road: Melbourne may lose its grand prix after the current contract

End of the road: Melbourne may lose its grand prix after the current contract

Ecclestone hinted that he would be prepared to negotiate a reduced fee if the race was held under floodlights making it more suitable to European television audiences.

'We would have a look, maybe we could help subsidise that a little bit,’ he added.

'We have other races ready to take the place of Australia – which we don’t want to happen.

Ringmaster: Bernie Ecclestone has warned the Australian Grand Prix over its future

Ringmaster: Bernie Ecclestone has warned the Australian Grand Prix over its future

'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”.'

Since staging its first Formula One event in 1985, the Australian Grand Prix has played host to a number of memorable races.

Unforgettable: Mansell lost the 1986 title in Adelaide

Unforgettable: Mansell lost the 1986 title in Adelaide

Adelaide Street Circuit, which ran the event prior to Melbourne, was the scene of Nigel Mansell’s unforgettable tyre blow out as he looked poised to clinch the 1986 world title.

The same track also saw Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill infamously collide, earning the former his first of seven world titles back in 1994.