F1 preview: A lap of the Austrian Grand Prix
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Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali remains confident that a 23-race season can be put together this year, despite the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix complicating matters. The COVID-19 pandemic claimed its third host country victim of the year after Singapore and Canada made the same decision.
The prospective race at Melbourne’s Albert Park has now been cancelled for the second consecutive year.
Originally, the venue was meant to host the season-opener in March, although it was pushed back to November to give race organisers more time to make the necessary arrangements.
Australia’s particularly tight travel restrictions and quarantine requirements have served to make life extremely difficult in terms of granting assurance that the GP could go ahead.
As this was the last possible week for race organisers to be given concrete assurance in that regard, both the MotoGP and F1 events have been cancelled when it failed to arrive.
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Australian Grand Prix corporate chairman Paul Little said: “We’re deeply disappointed that for a second consecutive year, both MotoGP and Formula 1 fans won’t be able to see the world’s best riders and drivers compete at the wonderful Phillip Island and Albert Park Grand Prix Circuits.
“We appreciate the challenge Australia faces with current international travel restrictions and the importance of vaccinations.
“I would like to reassure our motivated and professional staff, suppliers and partners, as well as the Victorian tourism and major events community that we will work tirelessly to deliver these iconic events in 2022.”
Although the development now leaves the F1 calendar one race short, there are thought to be a number of host countries on standby.
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China, the USA and Bahrain’s outer layout have all been touted as potential alternatives according to Motorsport Week.
Canada and Singapore both called off their own respective Grand Prix for similar reasons, while organisers have shown their ability to make necessary adjustments in response.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said: “We are confident we can deliver a 23-race season in 2021.
“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.”
Although the Australian cancellation is certainly a setback, chiefs clearly remain committed to ensuring the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have 23 races to battle it out for the top spot in 2021.
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