Australian Grand Prix date confirmed as Albert Park misses out on season opener

Sam Cooper
The main straight at Albert Park prior to the start of the Australian Grand Prix race weekend.

The main straight at Albert Park.

The dates of the Australian Grand Prix weekend have been confirmed but the race Down Under has lost its place as the traditional season opener.

The Australian Grand Prix became the unsuspecting start of the COVID pandemic for Formula 1 when in March 2020, the race was cancelled at the last minute following positive tests of the virus from within Haas and McLaren.

The circuit missed out on the 2020 season as a result and was again absent for 2021 before finally making its return to the schedule in April of this year.

But the Albert Park track did not feature in its traditional spot of season opener having done so in 22 seasons since 1996 and that trend will continue into 2023.

 

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While the date is subject to final approval from the FIA, the promoter is offering fans the chance to register their interest for tickets to the event which they say will run from March 30 to April 2.

F1 has yet to confirm which race will take Australia’s place but with Bahrain hosting both the season opener this year as well as the second round of pre-season testing, there is wide speculation that the Middle Eastern country will again play that role in 2023.

But it will be back to business as normal in 2024 and 2025 with Autosport reporting that Australia will host the season opener in those years as well as on another three occasions in the upcoming decade.

The Australian Grand Prix will be F1 in 2023 but will hometown favourite Daniel Ricciardo?

The Australian Grand Prix is a special event not only because of the fans that flood to the street circuit but also for their love and affection they show to their perfect son.

Born in Perth, no other driver on the grid is further away from his home on any given race day than Daniel Ricciardo and, while his results have not always provided him that fairytale finish, the trip Down Under is no doubt a special occasion for the Honey Badger.

He finished P6 in this year’s event but that could prove to be his last in the sport if things do not go his way.

Ricciardo found himself in the middle of an Alpine-McLaren storm at the start of the summer break when rumours emerged that Oscar Piastri had been signed to take Ricciardo’s place for 2023.

There has been no official word from either of McLaren or Ricciardo but reports emerged that the Australian was told the news on the evening of the Hungarian Grand Prix, the last race before the summer break.

As it stands, it appears Ricciardo and McLaren are at loggerheads. The Australian reportedly wants a $21million pay-out for an early termination to his contract, which runs until the end of the 2023 season.

While the writing looks to be on the wall for his McLaren future, questions have now been raised as to whether the eight-time race winner’s time in the sport is over.

Ralf Schumacher suggested it was but Otmar Szafnauer has admitted Daniel Ricciardo would be a “good recommendation” if Piastri does leave Alpine.