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No fixed calendar slot for Melbourne

NEWS STORY
27/10/2021

Currently set to be the third race on the 2022 schedule, the Australian Grand Prix could yet return as the season opener in the years ahead.

It is well documented that Abu Dhabi pays a significant hosting fee in order to be the scene of the season finale, even if it makes the worst possible setting should the championship go down to the wire.

While Melbourne didn't pay extra for the equally prestigious honour of hosting the season opener, it is understood that Bahrain has greased F1's palm significantly enough to secure the enviable slot as Saudi Arabia keeps a watching eye.

However, talking to Speedcafe, Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO, Andrew Westacott admits that Melbourne could return as host of the season opener in years to come.

"There's not a level of permanency with that date," he said. "It allowed us to have greater time but it's also to allow the intricacies associated with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain fitting in and having their races before the commencement of Ramadan.

"You can't run those events during Ramadan," he added, "so they've got to be beforehand."

Since it first joined the schedule in 1996, only once has Melbourne not hosted the season opener, that was in 2010 when Bahrain had the privilege, though the pandemic has meant Australia missing out for the last two years.

Next year's Australian Grand Prix is scheduled for 10 April, after Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, however in 2023 and beyond the situation could change.

"Ramadan is even earlier in 2023," says Westacott, "so there's likely to be an adjustment again, with a traditional slot.

"We'll move back to change locations and timings into 2024 and beyond," he added.

"But my first priority right here and now is to make sure that we deliver on April 10 next year because it's so important for Formula 1, for Melbourne, and also for the fans."

Since the last Grand Prix, the Melbourne track has been resurfaced and some sections significantly reprofiled.

Though there has been talk in recent weeks of Sydney making an audacious bid for the race, this is widely regarded as political posturing and grandstanding.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Defiant, 29/10/2021 7:58

"I think the countries that have dipped out of having the GP's these two years should lose their spot's on the calendar. Replace them with old tracks that we have been without for years. Please no more Tilke tracks."

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2. Posted by Simon in Adelaide, 27/10/2021 9:26

"Unless Chairman Dan says otherwise
"

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