Start, Albert Park, Melbourne, 2019

Australian Grand Prix cancelled for second year in a row

2021 F1 season

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The Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled for the second year in a row.

The event at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne had been rescheduled from March 14th to November 21st in an effort to ensure it could go ahead safely amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However the government of the Victoria region confirmed its cancellation on Tuesday.

The federal government recently announced a halving of the number of international arrivals permitted in the country, which presented a significant obstacle to the race going ahead. Moto GP’s race at the Phillip Island circuit in October has also been cancelled.

F1’s rescheduled race was due to be the 21st round on its calendar. Formula 1 said in a statement it intends to arrange a replacement.

“While it is disappointing we won’t be racing in Australia this season, we are confident we can deliver a 23 race season in 2021 and we have a number of options to take forward to replace the place left vacant by the Australian Grand Prix,” said the championship.

“We will be working through the details of those options in the coming weeks and will provide further updates once those discussions are concluded.”

Last year’s Australian Grand Prix was cancelled after the teams arrived at the circuit, following the discovery of a case of Covid-19 within the paddock. The outbreak of the pandemic triggered the cancellation of a swathe of races and the extension reorganisation of the 2020 world championship.

This year’s race was due to be the first on a revised version of the Albert Park circuit.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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73 comments on “Australian Grand Prix cancelled for second year in a row”

  1. Not surprising considering that Australia appeared to keep the travel restrictions in place until the end of the year, and that Sydney is currently in its most extensive lockdown to date.

    Guess the big question is what will replace it.

    1. @skydiverian I assume Shanghai twice since Brazil also faces eventual cancellation.

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        6th July 2021, 8:13

        @jerejj The other idea could potentially be the Bahrain Outer Circuit because they are already in the Gulf region for the Saudi and Abu Dhabi rounds. I would like to see that back tbh.

        1. @randommallard But F1 has already raced in Bahrain this year, so going there again separately would be pointless. They could’ve done an additional race the weekend after the season-opener while they were there.
          Anyway, I doubt Bahrain would be a consideration unless an extreme situation arises.
          Shanghai is definitely a priority as long as it’s an option, given its status.

      2. China is safe place, but quarantine is the strictest as far as I known.

        1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
          6th July 2021, 11:07

          China is safe place

          The irony

        2. 🤣🤦‍♂️

  2. While this is sad news, as I was excited for the tweaked layout. I’m now looking forward to a new circuit joining the calendar. Maybe in Thailand, that’s definitely grade A.

    1. Thailand is having way greater problems with Covid than Australia with cases doubling weekly. UK is also on their red list which means 14 days quarantine in an approved hotel. Malaysia is having similar problems so Sepang is unlikely also. A Middle Eastern track would be better logistically so Bahrain is a possibility or Qatar – although I doubt the Saudi’s will allow that.

      1. @mrfill What do you mean by Saudi in this context? They don’t have a say on which places get added AFAIA. Both Bahrain and Qatar are on UK’s red list, as is the UAE, so definitely not a given.

        1. I would imagine the ongoing political and military tensions between the 2 countries @jerejj. Though tempers seem have cooled somewhat this year.

    2. Double header at COTA is looking more likely to fill the gap for missing other 3 american races this year. As for replacing Japan and Australia other than Bahrain outer ring making appearance difficult to see any other replacement(Thailand or Malaysia).

      1. @Chaitanya Don’t forget China, although some have claimed that China is even more restrictive in entry and quarantine, I guess than Japan or Australia.

        1. I really have no idea of restrictions for entry into China, only knew about Japan(thanks to debacle around Olympics and many countries raising concerns over entry of athletes) and Australia(from couple of friends who are stuck in India right now). Earlier today I saw news about MotoGP cancelling Australian GP and replacing it with Algarve(2nd race of year) and moving Malaysian GP within a week of Thai GP to reduce travel. MotoGP has scheduled GP at COTA for 3rd Oct so F1 races might take at usual late Oct time frame.

  3. I wouldn’t mind having the Australian and Brazilian GPs being cancelled if COTA gets to have a double header as indicated by the promoters, but the insistence to have 23 races under any condition is a bit too much for me

    1. COTA + Brickyard would be amazing

      1. @sumedh Unideal for F1 that deep into autumn for climatic reasons.

    2. +1 for this. I’d rather 18-20 races, without so many double headers. Austria didn’t need it and nor does anywhere else. Ok, except Baku.

    3. If they did a second race at Cota the week before, it would mean 7 race weekends in a row ( a septuple header?)

    4. Why? COTA is a boring circuit which has not really produced anything in all the years we’ve been going.

  4. First of many sadly. I can’t actually see many races happening in the second half of the season. Have we completed enough races for it to be deemed a full Championship yet?

    1. @Tom Yes, nine races completed thus far.

    2. As I understand from last season they need 8 to be a world championship and 15 to get their money from the TV companies.

      1. @geemac Technically you need events on three continents to be a world championship, but this requirement was waived last year and presumably could be again – although if we get COTA then that box will be ticked anyway.

        1. I thought that was covered after Brexit and the UK no longer be part of Europe.

          1. @jff I read the same but can’t recall whether the UK join Asia, Australia or Antarctica instead…

          2. Well As far as I know, BREXIT didn’t move which continent the UK was on… lol

          3. Isn’t the UK it’s own planet now? I’m pretty sure that’s how these things work.

          4. @jff Just because a country isn’t in the EU doesn’t mean it isn’t in Europe. For example, Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland aren’t, but they’re still in Europe geographically, as are the British Isles.

  5. As I anticipated, so entirely unsurprising. The AusGP was never going to work with the mandatory 14-day quarantine for arrivals still in place, so an inevitable outcome for a little while. For this same reason, the Japanese GP will eventually also get called off, especially as Japan’s entry restrictions are even more severe or stricter than Australia’s. MotoGP’s Motegi event already got called off, so no way F1’s Japanese GP could go ahead either under these restrictions that will likely still be in effect four months from now.
    I reckon a Shanghai double-header as a gap-filler between Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Although, the pretty much inevitable JPG cancellation will put Istanbul Park at risk again unless Turkey gets removed from UK’s red list in time for October.

    1. @jerejj Totally agree, we can add Brazil to the list of cancellations also.

      1. @bernasaurus Yes, and the Shanghai double-header indirectly also refers to the all but confirmed Brazil cancellation.

    2. Not sure if Japan will be called off i think there will be some pressure to make it a special event.

      1. @macleod Only people involved in the Olympics get exempted from the quarantine requirement or only have to quarantine for fewer days, no one else.

    3. I forgot to add in my original post: March 21 was the original race day, not 14.

  6. Ki Chi (@kichi-leung)
    6th July 2021, 7:40

    Back to Bahrain outer and Shanghai?

    1. @kichi-leung F1 has already raced in Bahrain this year, so I doubt that would be an option unless in an extreme scenario.

  7. ian dearing
    6th July 2021, 7:59

    and if the UK screw up their ‘no restrictions even though cases are rising fast’ ( a strong possibility), F1 will not be going anywhere.

  8. Australias slow vaccination rates have no helped

    1. Exactly this, they were expecting to get 80% vaccination coverage by October, in time for the F1 for it to go ahead. Unfortunately mismanagement and confusing messages, with low procurement of sufficient vaccinations have dominate the rollout.

  9. Obviously this isn’t a surprise, nor will the other cancellations coming in the second half of the season. I just don’t understand why we are so desperate to get 23 races in such a climate? It’s not like F1 makes much money out of Interlagos, and as much as I love the track, why not cancel it and go when it’s safe? It’s not like these tracks can take F1 to court, a pandemic is a pretty justifiable reason to not do something.

    If we cut out the ‘double-headers’, we’ll still get to 16 or so races, which was fine not so long ago. Why the obsession with 23? If we need 23 races lets just go around Silverstone 23 times, and Ferrari, Alpha Tauri and Sauber can stay at home.

    1. @bernasaurus Yes, one or two fewer wouldn’t be unbearable, but getting 23 definitely isn’t a given, depending on how the race calendar changes on the fly.

    2. @bernasaurus They’re trying to overcompensate for last year’s smaller 17-race calendar by hosting 23 races and getting a 23-race renevue in return for the teams and Liberty, because the pandemic really took a toll in the economics of the teams.
      It may be also like a ‘statement’ for the stock exchange, because an unhealthy F1 where a lot of races drop out without replacements, means the stock price would go down. If you look at the value of a F1 stock, last year took a big toll and only recently it managed to rise to pre-pandemic levels.

      If it wasn’t for these factors, I think everyone would be happy with a 18-20 calendar and plenty of breaks between races.

      As for which races will replace the cancelled ones, assuming Japan & Brazil get cancelled as well… I think 3 scenarios:
      1) OCT 17: USA 1 | OCT 24: USA 2 | OCT 31: Mexico | NOV 14: China 1 | NOV 21: China 2
      2) OCT 17: USA 1 | OCT 24: USA 2 | OCT 31: Mexico | NOV 14: China | NOV 28: Bahrain (Outer)
      3) OCT 10: Germany | OCT 24: USA 1 | OCT 31: USA 2 | NOV 7: Mexico | NOV 21: China

      1. They’re trying to overcompensate for last year’s smaller 17-race calendar by hosting 23 races and getting a 23-race renevue in return for the teams and Liberty, because the pandemic really took a toll in the economics of the teams.

        Not as straightforward though.
        Most tv and sponsorship revenue is not linked to the exact amount of races (just a minimum).
        And getting a last minute replacement won’t come with any significant venue income unless it’s within driving distance of those orange people.

        1. You may be right, but then why all the fuss about hosting exactly 23 races this year?
          And why do they keep adding more and more races every year if it doesn’t change the revenue?

          It doesn’t really make sense for Liberty to sign TV deals based only on hosting a minimum amount of races. Sure there is a clause like this and it was the big target of last year, to host at least 15 races for the TV broadcasters to honor the contract, but I don’t think hosting 15 races = hosting 22-23 races. There must be some extra money per race after the minimum thershold of 15.
          Also year-long sponsors probably have signed contracts that say “sponsor X will be visible at Y amount of races” (Y=23 probably). And it makes sense, because it’s not the mosta stable period, so they’d want to have a contract to specify the air-time. If there are cancellations, probably the sponsors would not be happy and they may have a clause that makes them pay less.
          Also losing Australia but getting China in return (perhaps as a double header), might be better, as China usually pays more. Also losing the race in Japan with no crowd, to a second race in USA with full crowd, might be better as well.

          Finding replacement races for the ones that have been cancelled, it’s not so much about getting extra income out of those, but doing damage limitation in terms of lost revenue. Last year it was a shock and F1 is lucky that managed to host 17 races. But this year they’re more prepared and they think they can make this work with 23.

          1. You are certainly right that in the long term more races is more revenue from TV and sponsors.
            And when sufficient time allows, they can ‘award’ those 23 race to the highest bidders.

            But I don’t think those equations work within a year, and less so with only a few months notice.

        2. Scenario 4 would be five additional races in Zandvoort then.

      2. @black I reckon Mexico would more likely get cancelled altogether than postponed by seven days.

        1. @jerejj Yeah it seems likely… So my “scenario 3” without Mexico and with either double China on Nov 14 & 21, or China on Nov 14 and Bahrain Outer on Nov 28 seems the most likely to me…

          I doubt that any other GPs are under consideration for replacements, aside from Germany, China & Bahrain Outer. I’d like to see Malaysia though, it mooted last year… or maybe go to Indy around mid-October.

          1. was mooted*

  10. What a contrast with money obsessed Europe.

    The city of Amsterdam cancelled a day of vaccinations, because on that date on the same location, a dance event has been organised.
    While at the same time they have to cancel events, because the police officers after a year of corona are exhausted.
    The irony is great.

    1. Billy macmahon
      6th July 2021, 13:43

      Hmm, Oz government went with the cheapest option (AZ) that happened to make their cronies and donors money and then haggled with Pfizer and lost vaccine supply. Primary focus was completely about money.

      1. As you would know “Billy” it’s always about the party “donors” and this govt. believes that it’s job is only to make announcements, somebody else is always responsible for actually doing, or not, anything.

  11. No big loss when even a revised Albert Park is likely not going to have much racing on it

    1. Sadly true. The main redeeming feature the Melbourne GP is that it is the first one of the season.

      1. @S Not necessarily, as Dieter pointed out over the weekend, that Australia’s entry restrictions mightn’t get lifted even by next March, so very possible Melbourne be a season-opener again, despite this cancellation.

        1. Possibly – though my point was that the main feature of the Melbourne GP isn’t the quality of the racing or on-track action, it’s the unknown factor of car/driver performance that comes from being the season opener.
          Even though I’m Aussie, I usually don’t enjoy F1 in Melbourne. The support events tend to be pretty decent, but F1 itself is typically poor.
          If they hold it later in the year when we already know the performance order of the field, there will be even less enjoyment to take from it.

          1. Not even that as the track is seen as an outlier and not really representative of relative strengths so we can’t satisfy our curiosity about that either. People say it’s a great town and all that, but doesn’t help me the TV-viewer.

  12. Europeans are 2-0 ahead so will they get a 3-0 here?

  13. Is this a good timing to test whether an extra race in Argentina or South Africa would work?

    1. @johnbeak I’m not sure if they’d be ready at this short notice.

  14. “While it is disappointing we won’t be racing in Australia this season, we are confident we can deliver a 23 race season in 2021 and we have a number of options to take forward to replace the place left vacant by the Australian Grand Prix,” said the championship.

    Didn’t know championships spoke!

  15. There’s no chance of Liberty delivering a 23-race season, and at this point even Liberty’s investors should be aware of this. It’s time for Liberty to come clean and admit there’s reason to believe some races won’t happen and won’t be replaced.

    1. @alianora-la-canta Spot on, I agree.

  16. Easy – Portimao, Mugello, Sakhir outer, even Sepang. They will work something out. They have plenty of time.

    1. @matthias-wlkp F1 has already been to Portugal this year and the same for Bahrain.
      Mugello, I’m not sure if it would be a feasible option with full race hosting fees. Malaysia is apparently in a lockdown state, so unlikely.

      1. Is there not a single racetrack in the US suitable for F1 besides COTA? They should be able to find something.

  17. A real shame Australia misses out for a second year, but understandable. Credit to them for announcing the cancellation early.

    Many mentions for Shanghai above, but this race is doubtful to say the least. In the past (eg 1982), F1 visited the United States three times in one season – returning to a nation that has already hosted a race this year (Austria excepted) shouldn’t be problematic (Covid situation allowing). Double-headers at venues with already confirmed races seem more likely if F1 are insistent on a 23-race season.

  18. I’d love a race in Malaysia!

  19. Not sure why people think Shanghai is going ahead.

    The Sinovac & Sinopharm vaccines aren’t particularly effective and the last thing the CCP will want is a virus outbreak in China. It would destroy their creditability worldwide and more importantly domestically.

    China wouldn’t risk that sort of potential domestic disturbance just for a race.

  20. Covid vs F1. Winner Covid. It amazes me that there is even a discussing about where and when we will have a race. Should we not be more concerned about not spreading the disease? I am a huge F1 fan but if for safety reasons the season would be canceled I would applaud that…

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