Australia set to lose opening round of F1 season

Melbourne looks set to lose the opening round of the Formula 1 World Championship

Next year’s Australian Grand Prix is unlikely to be the opening round of the Formula 1 World Championship.

It was yesterday confirmed that this year’s event would not take place as planned in November due to considerations surrounding international travel and quarantine.

A contract remains in place between the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and Formula One Management for the race to take place until 2025.

However, that is likely to see the race lose its season opening slot – a move that has been on the cards for some time.

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

“We’re thinking April is a date that we would like to be able to make some positive moves on.”

With the F1 season traditionally kicking off in March, the implication is that Melbourne would therefore lose its slot as the opening race of the season.

That date is contingent not only on what FOM decides with the calendar, but also the global and national COVID-19 situation at that point.

“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,” Little explained.

“Off the back of that we’ll know a lot more about whether or not April is viable.”

This year aside, Melbourne has hosted the opening round of the season on all but two occasions since it joined the world championship in 1996.

In recent years, there has been a push to shift the event, with organisers in Melbourne open to the concept of a new date.

“We’ve been talking April with F1 for some time,” explained 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.

“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.”

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