Australian FI Grand Prix postponed until November because of coronavirus

The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix has been postponed until November, with race organisers saying the coronavirus pandemic meant “it is not feasible” to hold the race in March.

The race, held in Melbourne’s Albert Park Circuit, will be contested on November 21, subject to World Motor Sport Council approval.

It is the second consecutive year the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix has been impacted by COVID-19, with last year’s race cancelled at the last minute in March because of coronavirus.

“The ongoing situation regarding COVID-19 has meant it is not feasible to begin the season in Melbourne,” Formula 1 said in a statement.

“But the good news is that the Australian Grand Prix will now take place from the 18th to the 21st November following an agreement between Formula 1 and the Australian authorities that shows the importance of the race in Australia to Formula 1 and our partners in Melbourne.”

Victorian Minister for Sport Martin Pakula said race organisers had made the right decision.

“The Australian Grand Prix is one of the great events in the world and we’ll make sure it can be run safely and successfully in November,” he said in a statement.

Motorsport Australia chief executive Eugene Arocca also backed the date change.

“While Melbourne could not open the season in March, having a new date confirmed is a terrific outcome for all parties involved,” he said.

“The decision to keep Australia on the calendar underlines how important our race is to the Formula 1 Championship.

“While fans are used to seeing the cars on track on the streets of Albert Park in March of each year, we now have the honour of hosting an event at the business end of the season where the championship fight could well and truly be decided.”

Afront-on shot of a black Formula One car in qualifying, with driver's helmet visible in the cockpitAfront-on shot of a black Formula One car in qualifying, with driver's helmet visible in the cockpit
The 2020 Formula 1 season felt the impact of coronavirus.(AP: Frank Augstein)

The Australian Grand Prix has traditionally been the season-opening race of the Formula 1 season.

The change in timeslot means it will be the 21st of the season’s 23 races.

The 2021 season will now begin a week later than planned, with the Bahrain Grand Prix scheduled for March 28.

Formula 1 said ongoing travel restrictions meant the Chinese Grand Prix would not take place on its planned date of April 18, however discussions were being held to reschedule the race later in the season if possible.

Imola in Italy will return to the Formula 1 season in the slot previously designated for the China race.

A race has also been scheduled for May 2, with the venue to be confirmed by Formula 1 in “due course”.