Formula One: Season-opening Australian Grand Prix facing postponement amid coronavirus restrictions


Formula One’s season-opening race in Australia could be delayed due to concerns caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Albert Park track in Melbourne has become the typical curtain-raiser for the F1 calendar, but the race – currently set for 21 March – seems unlikely to go ahead as planned.

A number of strict travel restrictions have been implemented by the Australian government, meaning all members of F1’s travelling circus would face two weeks of quarantine upon their arrival.

Australia’s absence from the schedule would see the campaign begin in Bahrain on 28 March. The PA news agency understands a formal announcement is likely to be made later this month.

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Last year’s round in Australia was cancelled after a British mechanic from McLaren tested positive for coronavirus following his arrival in Melbourne. The sport commendably went on to navigate a 17-round season in just 23 weeks, with Lewis Hamilton clinching a record-equalling seventh world championship.

It is hoped that the race in Melbourne could be moved to the second half of the year, with F1 bosses still hopeful of completing a record-breaking 23-race schedule.

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An F1 spokesperson said: “In 2020 we proved that we could return to racing safely and delivered what many thought was impossible in March. We have set out our 2021 calendar and look forward to the return of F1 in March this year.”

Organisers of tennis’ Australian Open, which also takes place in Melbourne, have told competing players they must arrive in the country by the middle of January to serve 14 days of self-isolation ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam. They will then stay at selected hotels in a bio-secure environment.

PA

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