Australia “unlikely” to hold first race of 2022 season

2021 F1 season

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The Australian Grand Prix is unlikely to return to its regular place as the season-opening race on the 2022 F1 calendar after the event was cancelled for the second year in a row.

The Albert Park circuit in Melbourne has held the first race of the championship in the majority of seasons since F1 first visited the track in 1996. However the outbreak of the pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s race two days before it was due to go ahead.

Covid-19 has thwarted efforts to hold this year’s race. Originally scheduled to open the championship on march 21st, it was then postponed by eight months due to the pandemic. Yesterday the government of the Victoria region confirmed this year’s race had been called off, leaving the 21st round on the schedule vacant.

While the event promoters are targeting a return to the calendar next year, the government’s sports minister Martin Pakula does not expect it will open the 2022 F1 season.

“It’s unlikely to be the first race next year but, frankly, that probably suits us,” said Pakula, according to the Australian Associated Press.

The Bahrain International Circuit, which took over as the first round of this year’s championship, is considered the most likely alternative venue for the opening grand prix of 2022.

Extensive changes have been made to the Albert Park circuit, including the removal of the chicane at turns nine and ten, for F1’s eventual return.

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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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25 comments on “Australia “unlikely” to hold first race of 2022 season”

  1. As I’ve been anticipating since Dieter pointed this out in his Paddock Diary over the Austrian GP weekend – unsurprising, considering I’ve seen mid-2022 mentioned as a reference before for sort of Australia’s normality return at the earliest.

    1. @jerejj What even are we doing expecting normalcy, within a year. I expect multiple waves of covid that will overtake most countries’ efforts to vaccinate enough of their population.

      1. I mean, there’s going to be plenty enough vaccines to go around. And production is only going to increase as more production facilities open. Most of the hampering is likely to occur due to mismanagement by governments at this point, but I wouldn’t expect Australia to be one of those.

        What might hamper their efforts is that the lack of cases in their country might have people choosing to not take the vaccine simply due to not being scared enough of covid-19 itself. Asian countries that didn’t get hit hard last year appear to have that exact problem with getting enough people vaccinated even though the vaccines are available (with a bit of added scare by anti-vax propaganda).

        Europe has the opposite going on, the rather high case rate there has scared enough people that herd-immunity is likely to be achieved by the end of Fall at the latest in the entire continent. Already first doses EU-wide are at 63% with 42% fully vaccinated for adults 18+. For completionism: Australia is only at 25% and 7.7%, a stark difference indeed.

        I agree that it’s impressive that this has been achieved in a year and a half, but it’s not impossible to achieve for any of the more well-off countries in the world. As we move on, and increase efforts to aide those less fortunate to get vaccines quickly, hopefully we can move onto the next phase in the first half of next year, where Covid becomes less of a threat of severe sickness, but more of a virus like the flu that we vaccinate the weak against.

  2. Given budget caps and cost considerations and making an assumption tha pre season testing takes place in Bahrain again. Holding the opening race at Bahrain does make for a decent opening race. The teams have the majority (if not all) of their engineering race equipment and only really needing the final race spec cars at the track.

    1. @maddme Possibly both Montmelo and Bahrain respectively, three days each.

  3. The year is 2027. Australia move back into their 57th lockdown as they persist with a zero covid strategy…

    1. Totally agree, F1 ‘ll probably not return down under until next century…

    2. Ki Chi (@kichi-leung)
      7th July 2021, 12:52

      Don’t blame them. They’re trying to emulate NZ

      1. Ki Chi (@kichi-leung)
        7th July 2021, 12:53

        And Singapore too… speaking from SG hehe

    3. @cduk_mugello @melbourne-96 @kichi-leung
      I share the same sentiments with all of you.

    4. I agree, the Oceanic countries have taken a perplexing strategy to be honest. Covid is going to live with us, perhaps permanently. There needs to be way for normality to return. Australia’s low effort vaccination drive is also to blame.

      1. Being isolated allows for a different approach. Nobody from another country can just drive to Australia or NZ…
        The idea is to keep infections down until sufficient vaccination can achieve herd immunity. Ultimately that saves lives. A lot of lives.

        Interestingly, Europe/America and other places having so little control/so much freedom and just allowing people to get infected and die seems quite strange to us Aussies… No idea why that sounds strange….

        1. That’s an easy thing for you so say, with an ocean between you and other countries. We don’t even have marked borders anymore, let alone a plausible way to do border control.

  4. This is starting to border on absurdity.

    1. Absolutely. Ozz has had 1 death apparently from this bad flu yet persists in terrorising their population off the back of a handful of “cases”. A “case” being someone, usually perfectly unaffected who has been called positive after an over calibrated PCR test.
      A state of emergency ensues, destroying business, livelihoods and any normal activities such as a GP.

      1. 30861 cases
        910 deaths

        Low numbers compared to other countries largely because of the management strategy employed. I’d rather that and miss out on some car races.

        1. 30861 cases
          910 deaths

          Which ties in closely with Gmacz’s (well researched) figures…
          There is also a recently reduced limit on international arrival numbers into the country. This has been more or less halved in recent days. Allowing the F1 circus into the country would setback many Australians trying to get back home. It’s all a matter of priorities.

      2. How many people have died from depression and financial ruin vs COVID? That’s the real question

        1. In Australia? A lot less than in other countries with higher infection rates, I’m willing to bet @paeschli.
          Government financial assistance is available to all Australian citizens and residents, and mental/emotional support is freely available 24/7.

        2. @paeschli according to the British Medical Journal, having analysed data across a wide range of different nations in March 2021, the preliminary results to what is an admittedly highly complex topic is that there does not seem to have been any real measurable change in rates of suicide or self-harm as a result of the current pandemic.

          The impact on mental health is also complex area still under research, but the indication at the moment is that there have been both negative and positive impacts. Some groups might have encountered increased issues with mental health issues during the lockdowns or due to other impacts but, on the other hand, the increased availability of mental heath support networks, coupled with increased awareness of that issue resulting in people being provided with support at an earlier stage, means that the overall effect seems to have been close to neutral.

          In the case of Australia specifically, the coroner’s office for the state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, has stated that suicide rates have not actually risen compared to the long term historical average throughout the current outbreak.

          In other parts of Australia, such as New South Wales, the combination of government financial assistance and increased investment in mental health support services that S mentions seems to have translated into a reduction in rates of suicide and self harm – New South Wales reported that suicide rates over the last 12 months have actually gone down 5%, with the impact of those support programmes potentially outweighing the impact of any lockdowns.

  5. Might as well permanently cancel Australia at this rate. This virus isn’t going to disappear any time soon, unfortunately.

    1. @lejimster82 I agree, and not that I would mind losing Melbourne, despite the track configuration changes.

      1. I’d like if they went back to adelaide.

  6. Its more like that it is January 2038 and Australia records 1 new covid case and goes into a month long lockdown having stayed committed to their idiotic zero transmission policy. New Zealand meanwhile hasn’t seen outsiders going on 17 years as they remain in lockdown.

  7. Was expecting a note about Reutemann but I guess news from this side of the Atlantic don’t make it to the British web sites …

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