Formula 1 says it has “a number of options” available to it to replace the Australian Grand Prix, which has been canceled for the second year running.
November’s race in Melbourne has been called off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, with government travel restrictions making it logistically impossible to commit to the event. F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says it’s a shame to lose what is usually the season-opener, but that the gap in the calendar will still be filled.
“While it is disappointing we won’t be racing in Australia this season, we are confident we can deliver a 23 race season in 2021 and we have a number of options to take forward to replace the place left vacant by the Australian Grand Prix,” Domenicali said. “We will be working through the details of those options in the coming weeks and will provide further updates once those discussions are concluded.”
One of the options available to Formula 1 is to add another race in the Middle East – likely using Bahrain’s outer circuit – to form a tripleheader to finish the season as in 2020. That would also give an extra week’s breathing space after the tripleheader of USA-Mexico-Brazil, with the Brazilian Grand Prix in particular looking uncertain.
Should either of Mexico or Brazil not happen, then there remains the possibility of two races being held at Circuit of the Americas. However, it remains to be seen if F1 will opt to simply slot in another standalone event on the original Australian date of November 21.
The cancellation of Australia means no home race for Daniel Ricciardo, and the McLaren driver says the whole grid will miss the trip to Melbourne this year.
“It’s a huge disappointment for all of the drivers that we won’t be coming down to Australia in November, but we understand the reasons,” Ricciardo said. “For me personally, I can’t wait to have the chance to race at home again, and it’ll be even sweeter when we do because it’s been so long. Fingers crossed things can change for 2022 and we get to see the awesome fans at Albert Park again and put on a good show for them.”