The 2021 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, scheduled to take place in November, has been cancelled due to logistical challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Formula 1 will not race in Australia for a second year in succession following the cancellation of the 2021 Australian Grand Prix. The race was due to take place in November. It had previously been set to be the opening round of the 2021 season, but was pushed back to the later stages of the calendar in January.
Australia has strict entry requirements amid the coronavirus pandemic. Visitors must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, with these measures expected to still be in place by the time of the scheduled Australian Grand Prix.
In a statement, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicalli said:
“While it is disappointing we won’t be racing in Australia this season, we are confident we can deliver a 23 race season in 2021 and we have a number of options to take forward to replace the place left vacant by the Australian Grand Prix. We will be working through the details of those options in the coming weeks and will provide further updates once those discussions are concluded.”
The cancellation of this year’s Australian Grand Prix comes with more warning than the cancellation of the 2020 event, which was called off just hours before the on-track action was set to begin. That was the first race to be curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic. Formula 1 would not race again after last year’s cancelled Australian Grand Prix for almost four months.
Track changes planned for 2021 race
Formula 1 was due to race on a revised layout of the Albert Park circuit this year. The complex between Turns 9 and 10 is now a sweeping bend, while other corners – notably Turn 13 – have been widened and re-profiled. The pit lane has also been widened by two metres. The track changes are expected to lower lap times by as much as five seconds.
The good news is that F1 is likely to return to Melbourne in 2022, with Albert Park holding a contract to host the Australian Grand Prix until at least 2025. Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott has said that the promoter and government are keen to return to the event to its season-opening slot on the 2022 calendar.
What will replace the Australian Grand Prix?
Formula 1 has not yet announced a replacement event for the cancelled Australian Grand Prix. As it stands, there is now a four week gap between the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 7 and the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix on December 5. The Brazilian Grand Prix may yet be cancelled too, with the pandemic showing few signs of slowing in the country. That may mean there is over a month long gap in the 2021 F1 calendar.
F1 has said there are “a number of options to fill the place left vacant – which will be worked through in the coming weeks”. Some of the options on the table may include another visit to Bahrain, perhaps for a race on the outer layout of the circuit, which was used for last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
The Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit was indefinitely postponed at the start of the year and may yet find itself back on the 2021 schedule, while the return of the Malaysian Grand Prix could also be an option. Sepang International Circuit last hosted a Formula 1 race in 2017.