Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Season-opening Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix set to be postponed?

Season-opening Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix set to be postponed?
January 5, 2021

Formula 1's season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne next month is set to be postponed due to Victoria’s COVID-19 quarantine restrictions.

After a disrupted 2020 campaign the Melbourne Grand Prix was due to be the first event in F1’s 23-race 2021 season.

Cancelled last year the race, scheduled for 21st March, is now likely to be postponed until later in the year.

With the Victorian Government enforcing strict travel restrictions to contain the threat of COVID-19, the Indian Test cricket team and participants in the Australian Open tennis tournament have been and are subject to a 14-day quarantine period.

F1 was hoping its personnel and travelling entourage would be exempt from this and able to operate in a bubble. However, with the Victorian Government reported to be insisting that quarantine is mandatory staging the race would be unviable for F1 with its three-day pre-season testing period set to be held in Europe from 2nd to 4th March.

With the 2020 Melbourne Grand Prix - cancelled two-days before it was due to be held - among a number of races not held last year (including the Chinese, Japanese, Singapore, Thai and Vietnamese races), F1 pulled together a 17-race calendar from July to December.

The revised calendar did not feature any events in Asia other than those held in Bahrain (two races) and Abu Dhabi.

It has been reported that F1 was confident the Melbourne race would be possible next month as a result of its own biosphere-based protocols which worked so well in 2020.

However, a two-week quarantine would not be viable for any of its 23 races, the most in an F1 season in the sport's history, given the amount of personnel travelling - around 1500.

An F1 statement issued today advised “in 2020 we proved that we could return to racing safely and delivered what many thought was impossible in March.

"We have set out our 2021 calendar and look forward to the return of F1 in March this year."

F1 has conducted rigorous testing for COVID-19 since the delayed start to the 2020 season, ensuring all paddock personnel attending events test negative before being allowed on site.

Those attending the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were required to remain within a biosphere on Yas Island for the entirety of the event, ensuring they did not travel to anywhere else in the Emirate.

The Bahrain GP, set for 28th March, now seems likely to be F1’s season-opener.

Images: The F1 circuit at Melbourne's Albert Park (top) and the start of the 2019 race (below). Images courtesy of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation.

About the author

Nigel Benton

Co-founder/Publisher, Australasian Leisure Management

Nigel Benton is the co-founder and Publisher of Australasian Leisure Management, Australia and New Zealand’s only magazine for professionals in all areas of the leisure industry. Having established the magazine in 1997, shortly after his relocation to Australia, he has managed its readership rising to over 11,500 and its acceptance as the industry journal for professionals in aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues.

In 2020, he launched the new Asian Leisure Business website.

Among a range of published works and features, his comments on a Blog (blogspot) from 2007 to 2011, when this website went live in its current form, may be interesting to reflect back on.

Click here to connect with him via LinkedIn.

Read more from this author

Related Articles

4th January 2021 - NSW Government reduce SCG’s crowd capacity to 25% for Australia v India Test

2nd January 2021 - New Victorian Coronavirus outbreak sees NBL relocate South East Melbourne Phoenix and New Zealand Breakers to Hobart

2nd January 2021 - Japanese Prime Minister insists Tokyo Olympics will go ahead in 2021

31st December 2020 - Olympic Council of Asia announces second postponement of 6th Asian Beach Games

23rd December 2020 - Melbourne Park’s three main venues to operate with at least 25% capacity for Australian Open

21st December 2020 - 2020 an ‘unprecedented’ year for sport administrators

19th December 2020 - Victorian Government confirms Australian Open’s February dates and future at Melbourne Park

15th December 2020 - Yas Island Abu Dhabi rewards frontline workers with visits to Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2020 and attractions

27th November 2020 - New safety initiative sees warning lights made mandatory at all Formula 1 and MotoGP circuits

12th November 2020 - Vietnamese Grand Prix dropped as F1 announces longest ever race calendar for 2021

5th November 2020 - Saudi Arabia to host first F1 Grand Prix in 2021

13th October 2020 - Australian Grand Prix Corporation appoints Nicki Kenyon to board

25th August 2020 - Formula 1 adds Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Turkey to 2020 race calendar

13th March 2020 - Australian Grand Prix called off due to Coronavirus concerns

13th February 2020 - Coronavirus fears sees postponement of F1 Chinese Grand Prix

12th February 2020 - Workers start preparations at Albert Park for 2020 Australian F1 Grand Prix

5th February 2020 - Shanghai Sports Federation suspends all sporting events casting doubt on F1 Grand Prix

14th January 2020 - Formula 1 secures first ever gambling sponsor

19th July 2019 - Melbourne secures Formula 1 Grand Prix until at least 2025