The Australian Grand Prix organizers would like to host the race later in 2020, despite describing this weekend’s event as cancelled.
McLaren withdrew from the race once one of its team members tested positive for coronavirus, triggering a chain of events that ultimately led to the race being called off. That decision was only communicated just before FP1 was due to start on Friday morning, and in apologizing to fans for the timing, Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Paul Little said he is keen to host the race at a later date.
“To our race fans, I’d like to say we’re terribly disappointed that the event can’t go ahead,” Little said. “The reasons for that are well known, and I’m sure there’ll be questions about that shortly. But from the Australian Grand Prix point of view I just want to say sorry to our fans.
“The health and safety and welfare of the teams and people, the community generally, has to take precedence, and it will and it has,” he said. “We look forward to hopefully being able to run this event at some later stage. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
According to AGPC CEO Andrew Westacott, the decision to describe the race as “cancelled” rather than “postponed” – in contrast to the term used for the following three rounds in Bahrain, Vietnam and China – was made though a belief that a stronger message was needed to leave fans in no doubt that the weekend was off.
“It’s important we used the word ‘cancellation’ because of the imminency of the timing of it,” Westacott said. “Important to make sure that the fans in Melbourne at the gate knew that it wasn’t a postponement for some period of hours or days: the word ‘cancellation’ was used deliberately.
“In F1 you never say never. We have been working on the here and now with Chase (Carey), the FIA and F1, and we will work though matters but we haven’t started thinking about future staging or anything like that but it will happen in the fullness of time.”
One of the logistical issues that impacts on any hopes of trying to reschedule the race later in the season revolves around how long it takes to build the the track, which is a street circuit located in a public park.
“We can’t leave it here for months,” Westacott said. “One of the things we respect here is there are men and women’s football teams and sporting activities here. One of the privileges we have is to occupy a beautiful park in the CBD of Melbourne.
“We want to minimize the impact of the build and the dismantle. This changes the way we dismantle the circuit, but we can’t be leaving it here for days or weeks, and we will be dismantling and removing the infrastructure and returning it to the sporting clubs of Albert Park and Melbourne.”
Formula 1 has already stated it is targeting starting the new season in May at the very earliest due to the ongoing global health situation.