Organisers of Formula 1’s Australian Grand Prix have confirmed that their event will open the 2021 season, 12 months on from the coronavirus-prompted 2020 cancellation.
The Australian Grand Prix, held in Melbourne’s Albert Park, was due to open the 2020 Formula 1 campaign on March 15.
But it was cancelled two hours prior to the first practice session after McLaren withdrew in the wake of a team member testing positive for Covid-19.
It marked only the third time since 1996 – along with 2006 and 2010 – that Australia had not hosted Formula 1’s opening event, with the season eventually getting underway in Austria in July.
Australia – specifically the state of Victoria in which Melbourne is located – has tight restrictions, including limited entry into the country, and mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals.
It has yet to be confirmed whether Melbourne’s other leading sporting event, the Australian Open, will take place as usual in late January 2021.
A date of March 21 is understood to have been outlined for Melbourne’s grand prix.
Formula 1’s provisional schedule is set to feature 23 rounds though this is largely in order to satisfy new and existing contracts.
Saudi Arabia is due to join, with a street race in Jeddah listed for late November, while Brazil is set to be included with a round in Rio de Janeiro – though a circuit has yet to be constructed.
All other 21 rounds due to take place in 2020 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic have been provisionally included.
Officials in Melbourne are hoping to allow fans to access next March’s event.
Formula 1 fans have only been permitted limited entry to a handful of grands prix this season owing to restrictions depending on respective territories.
“Our Grand Prix is synonymous as the season opener and we look forward to delivering an event in March 2021 that will form a significant part of the recovery of the major sports and events industry in Victoria,” confirmed the Australian Grand Prix Corporation on Wednesday.
“The landscape for staging major events has changed and we’re working closely with health authorities and the Victorian Government on sensible, flexible, adaptable, modular, and most importantly, COVIDSafe plans for welcoming fans to Albert Park.”