It has been revealed that the Formula 1 Australian GP has posted a big loss this year. The Victorian government, which hosts the race at Albert Park, Melbourne said this year’s edition cost taxpayers $49 million. That sum is the highest in five years and more than double what the 2006 race cost. And despite the bigger attendance this year, sales revenue is on a downhill slide.

It has also been reported that with circuit upgrading costs factored in, taxpayers coughed out a total of $57 million for this year’s GP. Also dragged out is the fact that executives at the Australian Grand Prix Corporation received bonuses totalling $150,000, including $50,000 for CEO Drew Ward, whose total salary topped $380,000.

Needless to say, the news has attracted flak from various parties. “I think it is just outrageous, it has gone past a joke and it is time both sides of politics started to seriously reconsider the ongoing cost of taxpayers bailing out of this event,” independent state MP Craig Ingram told the Age newspaper.

“The cost of $49 million for a car race when as a local member of parliament we struggle to get funding for health services, education, support services for disabled kids at schools, for roads and other infrastructure – I just think there is a whole range of services and other infrastructure which need that sort of money more than a car race,” he added.

Australia’s Major Events Minister, Tim Holding defended the race. He said: “The economic benefit to Victoria far outweighs the cost of staging the Formula 1 Grand Prix. The race was seen by about 12.8 million people in Europe this year and the massive television exposure that the Melbourne Grand Prix receives has helped to build our world-wide reputation as a great place to visit and a great place to live.”

Some are still sceptical. Peter Logan from the Save Albert Park group told papers that the race doesn’t help tourism. “Three years ago, the auditor-general found it does not produce the economic benefits the Government has claimed and he found no tourism benefit for Victoria. This cost of $49 million is just a huge cost on all Victorian taxpayers.”

Whatever it is, Melbourne has a contract to host F1 for the next five years. As a host of the travelling circus ourselves, what’s your view on this?