The coronavirus pandemic appears to have fucked over the second Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in a row, with a team owner all but confirming Melbourne’s 2021 season-opening race will be postponed.
Lawrence Stroll, owner of the freshly-minted Aston Martin Formula 1 Team, told Reuters the March 21 event will be pushed back to the second half of the calendar.
“Melbourne has been — it’s not officially announced but it will be — not cancelled but postponed,” the Canadian billionaire said.
The first event on the 2021 Formula 1 calendar will be the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28, Stroll added.
As someone who drew an unexpected amount of joy from last year’s Formula 1 season, and was really hoping to catch the race in person: Bummer.
Neither Formula 1, its governing body, the FIA, nor the Australian Grand Prix Corporation have publicly announced a change to the schedule.
However, Stroll’s statement doesn’t come as a total surprise to F1 fanatics.
Earlier this week, The Age reported the Victorian Government was in “ongoing” conversations with Formula 1 race organisers, owing to the worrying numbers of new coronavirus cases popping up in the state.
Concerns don’t just relate to the large number of attendees and team members in one place, either. Current guidelines mandating 14 days of hotel quarantine for all new arrivals would pose a logistical nightmare for all teams involved.
On the plus side, there’s still time to make a decision either way – unlike last year’s event, which was abruptly cancelled on its first day after fans had already crowded the Albert Park circuit.
Despite enjoying a relatively successful 2020 season, a number of drivers and team members – including Stroll and his son, Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll – tested positive for COVID-19 over the year.
Other major sporting events have already announced plans to roll with COVID-19’s seemingly endless punches.
The Australian Open is slated to begin on February 8, with ticketing changes designed to minimise the risk of another outbreak.
The 2021 AFL season is poised to kick off on March 18 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with quarters reverting to their full 20 minutes over the 16-minute periods adopted in 2020.
There are plenty of reasons for COVID-19 to finally fuck off, and the ability to hold sporting events with full attendance is not Australia’s primary focus. But goddamn, it would be nice to watch Daniel Ricciardo snake a podium on home soil.