The Australian Grand Prix is likely to be postponed due to concerns over Covid-19, forcing a delay to the start of the 2021 F1 season.
Prior to the new year, Australia introduced tough measures intended to guard against a resurgence of the virus, which has killed over 1.8 million people worldwide. Formula 1 personnel would either have to obey a 14-day quarantine on arrival in Australia, or charter flights to the country and operate within a ‘biosphere’ as they did in Abu Dhabi, either of which presents significant logistical and financial obstacles.
Construction of the temporary circuit must begin before the end of January in order for the race to go ahead as scheduled. A decision on whether the grand prix will go ahead in March therefore needs to be taken within the next two weeks.
Ticket sales have not begun for the March race. Australia’s Supercars series, which is due to appear on the support roster, is understood to have an option to use the nearby Sandown Park circuit on the same weekend if the Melbourne event does not take place.
If the grand prix cannot go ahead as scheduled, it is likely to be postponed until the second half of the year. However this would likely involve moving other events on the 2021 F1 calendar, which is the longest the sport has ever planned.
Tickets are already on sale for the Bahrain Grand Prix, which is scheduled for March 28th. If the Melbourne race is postponed, Bahrain would become the season-opener, which could make its circuit a more attractive venue for pre-season testing, currently due to take place at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.
A Formula 1 spokesperson told RaceFans: “In 2020 we proved that we could return to racing safely and delivered what many thought was impossible in March. We have set out our 2021 calendar and look forward to the return of F1 in March this year.”
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