Former Australian GP figurehead Ron Walker passes away

Ron Walker, an influential figure in bringing Formula 1 to Melbourne, has passed away at the age of 78.

Walker, a successful businessman, was at the centre of the deal to move Formula 1 from Adelaide to Melbourne, with the first race taking place in 1996.

Melbourne quickly established itself as one of the most popular events on the calendar, and has been the season opener on all bar two occasions since.

Walker stepped down from his role as the Australian Grand Prix Corporation’s Chairman in 2015 and tributes have been paid to his legacy.

“Australia, Victoria and Melbourne have lost a great son with Ron Walker’s passing,” said former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“For decades, not much happened in Melbourne without Ron being at the centre of things.

“As well, he was a great supporter of good causes, from medical research to the Liberal Party, which he helped to keep together in tough times.

“He was a staunch friend and constant encouragement to successive Liberal leaders and will be much missed.

Confederation of Australian Motor Sport President Andrew Papadopoulos said: “Ron was a true visionary and a person everyone had the greatest respect for.

“Working with Ron throughout his time as Chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation was always an honour.

“For those of us who had the pleasure to meet him, we won't forget the lasting impression he left on us.

“He leaves behind a strong legacy and we'll always be thankful for his contribution to motor sport in particular.

"Ron will always be remembered. On behalf of everyone at CAMS, we extend our sympathies to Ron's wife, Barbara, his family and all those who are tonight in mourning."