The FIA has announced that due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions affecting the world at large, the Australian Grand Prix will be unable to take its traditional slot as the curtain raiser for the F1 season.
Melbourne has traditionally hosted the opening grand prix of the season since 1996 but was forced to cancel the 2020 event at the last minute due to the Coronavirus outbreak. And with travel and quarantine restrictions still affecting the state of Victoria, the season will instead begin in Bahrain between 26th -28th March with the Australian GP moved to November 21.
2021 CALENDAR UPDATE
🇧🇭 Season starts in Bahrain 26-28 Mar
🇦🇺 Australia moves to 19-21 Nov
🇮🇹 Imola returns 16-18 Apr; China discussions ongoing
Dates of Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi races all change#F1 pic.twitter.com/4QoP0gKKsA
— Formula 1 (@F1) January 12, 2021
Another race to lose its slot is the Chinese Grand Prix, with Imola returning to a revised date of April 18 and the hope that Shanghai could possibly return later in the year. Despite all of the changes, the 2021 provisional calendar is still the largest ever with 23 planned races and the hope that fans will be able to return to the grandstands and the Paddock Club to cheer on the teams and drivers.
“It has been a busy start to the year at Formula 1 and we are pleased to confirm that the number of races planned for the season remains unchanged,” commented Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1. “The global pandemic has not yet allowed life to return to normal, but we showed in 2020 that we can race safely as the first international sport to return and we have the experience and plans in place to deliver on our season.
“It is great news that we have already been able to agree a rescheduled date for the Australian Grand Prix in November and are continuing to work with our Chinese colleagues to find a solution to race there in 2021 if something changes. We are very excited to announce that Imola will return for the 2021 season and know our fans will be looking forward to the return of Formula 1 after the winter break and our revised season opener in Bahrain.
“Obviously, 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.”