Formula One postpones Australian and Chinese Grands Prix

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Great Britain at the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 13 2020.
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Great Britain at the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 13 2020.
Image: Peter Fox/Getty Images

Formula One postponed the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix on Tuesday due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with Bahrain now set to open the season on March 28.

Italy’s Imola circuit was added to the 23-round calendar as the second race on April 18, with the third slot on May 2 still to be confirmed but expected to be filled by Portugal’s Algarve circuit.

Australia was given a new date of November 21 for the race in Melbourne.

China was not listed on the revised calendar but Formula One sources said it would be slotted in if circumstances allowed and another race dropped off.

The calendar will not stretch beyond 23 races.

Both the Australian and Chinese races were cancelled entirely last year as the pandemic ripped up the sporting calendar, with the season reduced to 17 grands prix in Europe and the Middle East.

“We are pleased to confirm that the number of races planned for the season remains unchanged,”  Formula One’s new CEO, Stefano Domenicali, said.

“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.”

Other motor racing championships have already had to modify their plans as a result of continuing restrictions due to the pandemic.

The all-electric Formula E series postponed its January opener in Chile after the South American country closed borders to arrivals from Britain, where a number of teams are based, and is now due to start in Saudi Arabia in late February.

Seven of 10 Formula One teams are based in Britain, now in its third national lockdown and struggling to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The Rally World Championship is due to start in Monte Carlo this month but has already had to tweak its calendar with Belgium replacing Britain.



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