Bahrain is poised to become the new host of the Formula 1 2021 season opener as the Australian Grand Prix is set to be postponed.
Motorsport.com are reporting that due to the continued strict travel restrictions in Australia and Covid-19 cases on the rise again with a new strain of the virus identified, the traditional curtain-raiser in Melbourne is set to be moved back until later in the year.
The report also states that official news on the postponement is set to arrive before the end of January, when construction work usually begins on the street circuit around Albert Park.
This, of course, is not the first time that the Australian Grand Prix has been hit with delays and disruption since the pandemic.
Formula 1 did try to start the 2020 season in Melbourne but, after chaos behind the scenes when the first coronavirus case hit the paddock at McLaren, it was cancelled just a few hours before the first free practice session was due to start.
As the pandemic continued to sweep across the globe, a whole host of other race organisers were forced to postpone or cancel their events, with Formula 1 bosses and the FIA eventually able to produce a revised 17-race calendar starting in July 2020 which was successfully completed.
It now appears that more logistical challenges await the ruling bodies of Formula 1 as the Australia Grand Prix is only set to be postponed and not cancelled. That could cause another reshuffle of the provisional 23-race calendar that has been mapped out for 2021.
The Bahrain Grand Prix scheduled on March 28 was set to be the second race of the new season, but now looks like it will be the first. Tickets are on sale for that event, but none have been made available for the Australian Grand Prix.
One of the main complications is that Formula 1 personnel would either have to obey a 14-day quarantine on arrival in Australia under current legislation, or travel to the country via charter flights and operate within a ‘biosphere’ as they did in Abu Dhabi – either of which presents significant logistical and financial obstacles.
Tennis players will have to serve the quarantine period before the year’s opening Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open in Melbourne, which has been delayed by three weeks until February 8.