The Australian Formula One Grand Prix, scheduled to be held in Melbourne in March, has been postponed to late 2021 due to the pandemic.
This means it is the second consecutive year that one of the country’s highest-profile sporting events has been hit by the virus. In 2020 it suffered a last-minute cancellation, also in March, as Covid-19 made its impact felt around the world.
“The ongoing situation regarding Covid-19 has meant it is not feasible to begin the season in Melbourne,” Formula One announced.
New date shows importance of the race
“But the good news is that the Australian Grand Prix will now take place from the 18th to the 21st November following an agreement between Formula One and the Australian authorities that shows the importance of the race in Australia to Formula One and our partners in Melbourne.”
Within Australia there is acceptance that postponement was probably inevitable and the right decision has been made.
“The Australian Grand Prix is one of the great events in the world and we’ll make sure it can be run safely and successfully in November,” said Martin Pakula, the Minister for Sport in Victoria.
Motorsport Australia happy with change
Eugene Arocca, the Chief Executive of Motorsport Australia, has also signalled his acceptance.
“While Melbourne could not open the season in March, having a new date confirmed is a terrific outcome for all parties involved,” he said.
“The decision to keep Australia on the calendar underlines how important our race is to the Formula One Championship.”
Could be the F1 Championship-decider
Arocca added: “While fans are used to seeing the cars on track on the streets of Albert Park in March of each year, we now have the honour of hosting an event at the business end of the season where the championship fight could well and truly be decided.”
The change in date means that the Australian event will – at this stage and depending on other calendar changes that may arise – be the third last race of the season.
The Chinese Grand Prix, for example, cannot proceed in April, as planned, due to travel restrictions and efforts are now underway to try to move it later in the season.