Supercars drivers will race for championship points when the action returns to Albert Park next year.
Supercars drivers will race for championship points when the action returns to Albert Park next year. MARK HORSBURGH

Supercars to step it up at F1 Grand Prix

SUPERCARS have finally won their long-time push for championship status at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation is expected to announce on Tuesday the popular support category will race for championship points from next year at Albert Park.

An extension to Supercars' deal to race at the event is also expected to be confirmed.

The series has waged a long-time campaign to have its races count towards its championship standings rather than operate as a demonstration event at the Melbourne F1 meet.

Supercars chief executive James Warburton last year warned the series could walk away from racing at the Grand Prix beyond the end of its current deal in 2018 if its bid for championship status was not met.

 

F1 driver Max Verstappen (centre) with Supercars drivers Shane van Gisbergen (left) and Jamie Whincup.
F1 driver Max Verstappen (centre) with Supercars drivers Shane van Gisbergen (left) and Jamie Whincup. MARK HORSBURGH

Supercars had been hopeful Formula One's new owners, Liberty Media, would be more open to their push to make the Grand Prix a round that counts.

Supercars would not comment on the announcement, but Warburton said in March the category wanted to get more out of the event.

"We love being there at the event and if we can race in a more meaningful way we would love to," he said.

"Certainly from an Australian point of view, it would be a good addition to the event (to race for points) and that's at the core of everything that we hear and we read from Liberty Media, that they are really about making sure these things are events.

"There seems to be no reason why that wouldn't be the case. Obviously it's up to the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and (chief executive) Andrew Westacott and his team to pave the way. But certainly there are no impediments in the way to that happening in the future."

Supercars have been a regular fixture at the Grand Prix since the event started at Albert Park and remain one of the most popular attractions for motorsport fans at the event. They have never raced there for points.

 

Australian Grand Prix Corporation boss Andrew Westacott (left) and Supercars CEO James Warburton.
Australian Grand Prix Corporation boss Andrew Westacott (left) and Supercars CEO James Warburton. MARK HORSBURGH

AGPC chief executive Andrew Westacott said earlier this year he believed the Grand Prix would be enhanced by having Supercars racing for championship points.

"The answer in our mind is the fan experience and racing experience has got to be first class," Westacott said.

"We do passionately believe one of the ways the fan experience can be continually improved is to add the Supercars as a championship round, in a way that supports and complements the main show of the weekend, which is Formula One.

"We have got to put on a support program that the fans love and Supercars is top of the list domestically."

Racing for championship points at the Grand Prix gives Supercars four championship events in Victoria alongside Phillip Island, Sandown and Winton.

News Corp Australia

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