The Australian Grand Prix will continue to be a major part of the Formula 1 world championship, after the venue struck a new deal to remain on the calendar until at least 2035.
Melbourne's existing contract was due to run until 2025, but a ten year extension was announced on Wednesday night.
As part of the new deal, F1 will also be bringing its support race line up of Formula 2 and Formula 3 down under for the first time.
“I am delighted to confirm that Melbourne and the Albert Park circuit will continue to be on the F1 calendar until 2035," said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.
"The race has always been a favourite for the fans, drivers and the teams and Melbourne is an incredible and vibrant international city that is a perfect match for our sport.
The new contract means that the local organisers will be able to work on upgrading and improving the facilities at Albert Park.
Organisers had already made significant changes to the track layout during the global pandemic which meant that the race was cancelled in 2020 and 2021. The sport finally returned to the country last month.
“Over the past two years the promoter has made significant investment to upgrade the circuit," the official statement from F1 noted. "[They] will continue to improve the overall fan experience and facilities, including the paddock and pitlane, at the circuit over the coming years.
“This will enhance the fan experience but also modernise the facilities for the teams that will be essential for the smooth running of the event over the next decade.”
“This year we saw huge crowds and passionate fans at the Grand Prix," continued Domenicali. "We are very excited by the future in Australia as our sport continues to grow. We are all looking forward to being back in Melbourne next season with all our fans."
“This is a sensational announcement that is simply great for Melbourne and Victoria,” commented Australian GP CEO Andrew Westacott.
“It builds on our rich motor sport history as well as Melbourne’s love of big sporting events and provides aspiration to the next generation of Aussie racing stars.
“We’re proud of our strong relationship with F1 and together we will grow the sport in Australia and the broader Asia-Pacific region," he continued.
"Everyone at the Australian GP Corporation looks forward to taking the F1 Australian GP to new levels over the course of the next 13 years.”
“The Australian Grand Prix has never been bigger, with more than 419,000 people flocking to Albert Park for this year’s race,” said Martin Pakula, Victoria’s Minister for Tourism and Sport.
"We know how important this event is to our economy and that’s why we’ve delivered the longest extension for the race since it has been held in Melbourne.”
The Australian Grand Prix first appeared on the F1 calendar in 1985 when Keke Rosberg won the inaugural race in Adelaide. The race switched to its current location in 1996 when Damon Hill won in Melbourne.
Australia became the traditional curtain raiser of each new season, only making way to Bahrain in 2006 and 2010 until disruption caused by the pandemic, but is unlikely to host the season opener in 2023.
It should return to the prestigious spot in 2024 and 2025, and the new deal reportedly guarantees it will be the first race of the season on at least three further yet-to-be-determined occasions in the following decade.
Stories this week have also strongly hinted that F1 will sign a deal to take the sport back to South Africa for the first time since 1993.
Domenicali visited Johannesburg this month to conduct talks about a race at Kyalami, with an April 2023 date looking likely. Either France of Belgium is expected to be 'rested' to make room on the schedule.