F1 postpones Melbourne Grand Prix to November
The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix is to be moved to November, with the Victorian Government, Formula 1 management and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation agreeing that quarantine restrictions relating to the Coronavirus pandemic make "it is not feasible" to hold the race in March as was originally scheduled.
The race, held in Melbourne's Albert Park Circuit, will now be contested on 21st November "subject to prevailing public health conditions".
The traditional season opener for the Formula One season, it became clear in recent weeks that the race would have to be postponed due to the stringent quarantine conditions required by Victorian health authorities.
The length of time demanded for quarantine would have impacted on preparations for what will be the longest ever race season in F1 history.
Advising of the rescheduling, Victorian Sports Minister, Martin Pakula noted that the November date “acknowledges that the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic made the usual season-opening March date unrealistic.”
Last year's Australian Grand Prix was cancelled at the last minute after Formula One teams and hundreds of staff had already arrived in Melbourne.
The change means that the F1 season will start in Bahrain on 28th March.
The announcement of the news new race date comes on the same day as the Victorian Government and health authorities have revealed the quarantine arrangements for a 1200-strong cohort of tennis players and officials about to arrive in Australia on chartered planes for this year's delayed Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
The government has pointed out that quarantine arrangements will be central to the race going ahead on the rescheduled date, with Minister Paula adding “the operation of the four-day Grand Prix event at Albert Park will be subject to prevailing public health conditions and advice from the Chief Health Officer, with infection prevention and control at the centre of all decisions
"Quarantine and other aspects of the Grand Prix will be considered in due course."
Commenting on the rescheduling, Formula 1 Chief Executive Stefano Domenicali added “it is great news that we have already been able to agree a rescheduled date for the Australian Grand Prix.
"The virus situation remains fluid, but we have the experience from last season with all our partners and promoters to adapt accordingly and safely in 2021."
Reports also indicate that the Chinese Grand Prix, scheduled to be held in Shanghai on 11th April, has also been postponed.
Image: The start line lights at the Australian Grand Prix. Credit: Australian Grand Prix Corporation.
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