Organisers of the Australian Grand Prix say they remain optimistic that the event can be rescheduled in 2020, but accept it is unlikely that Formula 1 will return this year.
The Formula 1 paddock travelled to Australia last week for
its season-opener but on Friday morning the grand prix was cancelled after a
team member from McLaren tested positive for COVID-19.
Formula 1 swiftly announced that planned upcoming rounds in
Bahrain and Vietnam – along with China – have been postponed.
It is deemed unlikely that Formula 1’s trio of grands prix (Netherlands,
Spain and Monaco) will go ahead as scheduled, with June’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix
tentatively ringed as a new season opener.
“It’s important we used the word cancellation because of the
immanency of the timing of it,” said Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO
Andrew Westacott, speaking on Friday.
“Important to make sure that the fans in Melbourne at the
gate knew that it wasn’t a postponement for some period of hours or days. The
word cancellation was used deliberately.
“In F1 you never say never, we have been working on the here
and now with Chase [Carey], the FIA and F1 and we will work though matters but
we haven’t started thinking about future staging or anything like that but it
will happen in the fullness of time.”
Formula 1’s Australian Grand Prix is held around the streets
of the leafy Albert Park, located to the south of Melbourne’s Central Business
The temporary nature of the facility, and the disruption it
causes to locals, means its rescheduling prior to 2021’s planned season-opener
is deemed improbable.
“We can’t leave it here for months,” said Westacott on the circuit
“One of the things we respect here is there are men and
women’s football teams and sporting activities here.
“One of the privileges we have is to occupy a beautiful park
in the CBD of Melbourne.
“We want to minimise the impact of the build and the
dismantle. This changes the way we dismantle the circuit but we can’t be
leaving it here for days or weeks and we would be dismantling and removing the
infrastructure and returning it to the sporting clubs of Albert Park and Melbourne.”