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Australia to lose season opening slot

NEWS STORY
07/07/2021

Officials in Australia reveal that that the Melbourne event is to lose its 'traditional' slot as the season opener.

This year, as in 2020, Melbourne was scheduled to host the opening round of the Formula One season, a prestigious slot it has held for all but two years since it joined the schedule in 1996.

However, Covid took its toll; with last year's race cancelled just hours before the opening practice session, and this year's race postposed from March until November until yesterday's official cancellation.

At the press conference confirming the event's cancellation for a second successive year, it was revealed that Melbourne - which has a contract to host the race until 2025 - will almost certainly no longer host the season opener.

"We will start discussions with Formula One Management very shortly about next year," said Paul Little, chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, "and extensions based on being able to make up for the last two years.

"We're thinking April is a date that we would like to be able to make some positive moves on," he added.

Little admits that next year's date will still depend on the national and global situation in terms of the pandemic.

"We need to follow through till the end of this year, we need to see what vaccination rates are like, we need to see what the federal government does with visitation rights," he explained.

"Off the back of that we'll know a lot more about whether or not April is viable."

"We've been talking April with F1 for some time," added Martin Pakula, Victoria's Minister for tourism, sport and major events. "This year, other events went into that first and second race slot and I think F1 is keen to continue with those events being the first and second race of the year," he added, referring to Bahrain and Imola.

"So we've been looking at April for some period of time, it's not set in stone, and we'll continue those discussions.

"It's unlikely to be the first race next year but frankly, that probably suits us."

Abu Dhabi pays handomely for the privelege of hosting the final race of the season and it is likely that Bahrain will be equally happy to hand over the folding, especially due to the excitement surrounding the fact that next year's race will be the first chance for race fans to see how the rules overhaul affects the sport.

This year also saw Bahrain host pre-season testing, albeit reduced to just three days.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by TokyoAussie, 08/07/2021 4:20

"Can't see much difference between the situation that will exist between November this year and March/April of next year. The Morrison government has been totally abysmal on all matters, especially vaccinations. At the current rate, Melbourne will have to cancel next year's race as well. Mandatory 2-week quarantine upon entry still in force.

Here in Tokyo, where I am based, we're about to re-enter a state of emergency (which was only lifted about 2 weeks ago) for the I've-lost-track-th time. Olympics are only 2 or 3 weeks away, which will only lead to another spike in infections. There is no mandatory quarantines here, so the infected just waltz right on in. Suzuka is a pretty good place for an F1 bubble, so to speak, but if the Covid situation explodes post-Olympics, the Suzuka race will be in serious doubt, too. I suspect it is borderline already."

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2. Posted by elsiebc, 07/07/2021 18:01

"Why don't they just all wear masks? "

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