The 2021 Formula 1 schedule is set for a reshuffle, with news surfacing that the season-opening Australian GP is likely to be postponed.
With Covid-19 continuing to wreak havoc across the globe, Daniel Ricciardo’s debut with McLaren in front of his home crowd may be delayed. As news broke that the Australian GP could be pushed back until later in the year.
Melbourne’s current quarantine guidelines dictate a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, something that at the moment would be impossible for the F1 circus to achieve.
Sky Sports F1’s Craig Slater was first to break the news. And while an announcement isn’t likely in the next few days, an update from F1 should be expected within the coming weeks:
“I can tell you that the Australian GP which was set to be the season-opener for the 2021 season, will be postponed,” Slater said. “It hasn’t been postponed yet. I don’t expect an official announcement today, or in the next few days. But one insider has told me that it is impossible that it can take place under the current Covid restrictions in force in Australia.
“They were going to have a two-to-three week quarantine for F1 staff coming to the race in Melbourne. Given the numbers involved in excess of 1,500 people that they need to fly in to hold the Grand Prix. And also significantly because of the disruption that would have caused to F1 pre-season testing, which is absolutely vital to have before the season gets underway. That kind of situation is unworkable.”
Bahrain GP a likely replacement
With F1 wanting to avoid a repeat debacle of the Australian GP in 2020, which saw its cancellation just hours prior to first practice on Friday. It would be no surprise to see the opening round of the 2021 F1 season shift to the Sakhir Circuit in Bahrain.
“Now the race hasn’t been cancelled,” Slater continued. “The hope is that it will slot in at some point later in the season. Probably towards the end of the season. But what we’re looking at now is that the Bahrain GP will start the year in 2021 on the 28th March.”
While it is hoped the Australian GP will merely be pushed towards the end of the season, scheduling may be an issue. With an already record breaking 23 races announced for the year. One possible slot being the week between the Japanese and USA Grand Prix’s.