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Season opener to be postponed?


There is increasing speculation that the season opener in Melbourne, scheduled for 21 March, is to be postponed.

Though there is no official word from either F1 or the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, the strict, ongoing restrictions on travel into the country, combined with increasing reports of new strains of the virus around the world, are causing organisers to consider postponing the race until later in the season.

While there is talk that Bahrain, currently scheduled for 28 March could now become the season opener, it is the continued doubt over the races that follow that is the problem.

With Stefano Domenicali now in charge of the sport, the best thing the Italian could do right now is announce that the original 23-date schedule is under review and begin making plans for an alternative schedule.

The uncertainty over the virus, combined with reports of new strains are once again threatening the sport and despite the various vaccines that are now available there is no sign of a return to normality any time soon.

Last year saw the season opener in Melbourne scrapped just a few hours before the opening practice session, and while fans stood outside the gates of the Albert Park circuit, the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton were already heading home.

Tickets for the Melbourne race have not yet gone on sale though work on the temporary grandstands would normally begin later this month.

A decision would also need to be made in the coming weeks in terms of the shipping of the whole F1 apparatus.

Organizers in Melbourne have already issued strict guidelines for the event, with officials to be tested and placed in isolation 96 hours beforehand. Furthermore, some of those attending will be expected to quarantine for a further 14 days after the event.

Indeed, ahead of the forthcoming Australian Open in Melbourne, players will be quarantined for 14 days before the tournament.

As was the case last year, F1 and the teams cannot afford for the season not to happen. However, rather than reacting Domenicali would be best served by taking a proactive stance from the outset.

To date, Australia has suffered 909 deaths due to COVID, while 21 new cases in the last 24 hours brings the total of current cases up to 1,817.


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1. Posted by Hobgoblin, 08/01/2021 11:05

"@Simon in Adelaide - If 'serious mismanagement' gives you a total of 909 deaths to date due to COVID, then can we have some hints please. Our death toll in the UK topped that yesterday IN ONE DAY - that is proper mismanagement!"

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2. Posted by Simon in Adelaide, 04/01/2021 22:21

"Being based in South Australia there are a couple of things people ought to know about Australian mentality.

Firstly Australia is a federation of states and whilst the federal government has responsibilities for taxation, defense and international borders the States are responsible for health and internal borders. Now the state Premiers love playing politics and responses to Covid outbreaks vary from "we will treat this locally (NSW, SA)" to "the borders will be closed with immediate effect, anyone entering the state must quarantine in a designated isolation facility for 14 days at their own expense and the borders will not re-open until there has been no community transmission for 28 days (WA)", "I make no apologies for keeping Queenslanders safe", "nobody made any decisions and I am not responsible. (VIC)"

Australian politicians are Teflon coated (other non-stick coatings are available) and are hiding behind the 'advice' from their respective Chief Health Officers who have adopted the goal of Covid elimination and instigate a statewide lockdown at the slightest excuse.

With regard to the various vaccines, the Federal position is that these are unlikely to be rolled out until the 2nd quarter of this year, "we are in no rush to vaccinate people".

Due to some serious mismanagement in Victoria the State was subject to a prolonged period of lockdown and there will be much reticence at the prospect of having international travellers arriving for a GP; except for returning Australians, Australian borders have been closed for the last 8 months, people cannot leave without special permission.

If the Australian GP does not go ahead I would not be in the least surprised.

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3. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 04/01/2021 18:38

"I can say from a NZ point of view that if our current two week stand down upon return that we have to pay for (I'm OK with that) means that quite a few would be attendees will not be going to Melbourne.

Our government has shown little or no interest in opening "travel bubbles" with the Cook Islands let alone Aussie states. The current rule is if there is no community transmission in an Aussie state then a bubble can be established.
However, that did not transpire.
Aussie on the other hand will let travellers in from NZ, no questions asked.
Let's see how this new faster spreading UK/South African variant of the virus goes and that will probably determine how the rest of the year pans out.
Incidentally, if you are wondering why this virus is spreading in some places even with masks, apparently people are OK with wearing masks in public however, at home, when visitors come round, masks are not worn as often.

I heard that there were 76K tests done of the F1 circus and 76 people proved positive."

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4. Posted by Mad Matt, 04/01/2021 16:00

"I think the theory is that people with symptoms spread the virus the most as they are coughing and it stays in their system for longer.

Asymptomatic people spread it less as they aren't coughing.

Inoculated people spread it even less as they are not coughing, they have less viral load and the virus is eliminated from their system more quickly.

I'm not a virologist so the above just relates to my understanding of what I've read.

Either way, as a motor sport fan I hope the race can go ahead... as a human I hope it can be done safely :-)"

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5. Posted by elsiebc, 04/01/2021 15:59

"@kenji Masks, quarantining, and bubbles were supposed to do the trick. And Lewis, by his own admission, "did everything right". How many in the circus got it? And when are they going to have a moment of silence before the races for all those deaths?

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6. Posted by kenji, 04/01/2021 14:37

"@ the editor Very good point as i had not heard that before. I have looked at it and all i can find is that no one really knows the definitive answer, it's too early. Some medical bodies dismiss the concept of the superspreader after being vaccinated and others seem to endorse it!!! Who really knows. Better still, vaccinate them all and isolate them as was expected to be done anyway. That should do the trick....I think."

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7. Posted by Superbird70, 04/01/2021 14:25

"I don’t believe that we can consider F1 an essential service like first responders so maybe vaccinating the teams first may send the wrong message."

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8. Posted by Editor, 04/01/2021 13:20

"One aspect I've yet to see addressed is that while (fingers crossed) the vaccine will protect you from catching the virus you can still be a spreader.

Indeed, having had the vaccine one could easily be lulled into a false sense of security and 'return to normal', whilst unwittingly helping to spread the very same virus that you are protected against."

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9. Posted by kenji, 04/01/2021 13:05

"This was always on the cards and Australia currently sits in 100th position on the international list of virus stats covering both cases and deaths per M. They are not going to be taking any risks despite seriously small numbers.

What they should be looking at is having all F1 attendees being fully vaccinated. I believe that it takes 28 days for full effect and if all were vaccinated then 28 days later none of them [ 95% ] could pass it on. Couple that with 4 days added isolation should do the trick. That said, i don't think it will happen. Here we go...another season of 'what if'."

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