Australian GP boss hoping for title decider

Date published: January 19 2021

Albert Park, Melbourne, home of the Australian Grand Prix

Australian Grand Prix CEO Andrew Westacott is hoping Melbourne can host a race in November that decides the World Championship title.

When Formula 1 released its revised calendar earlier in January, it was confirmed the Australian GP would, for the second year in a row, not take up its usual spot as the season opener amid the ongoing global health pandemic.

Hosting the race in its traditional slot would have meant everyone travelling to Australia for the race weekend would have been confined to their hotel rooms quarantining for 14 days – something which is just not practical in the world of Formula 1.

Last season’s event was cancelled altogether, although it is still due to go ahead in 2021 but much later in the year than usual – on November 21.

If all goes to plan, it will be the 21st of a record 23 races, and that has excited Westacott about the prospect of a driver winning the title on the Albert Park circuit.

Quoted by GPFans, Westacott said: “Whilst I have always had a passion for the opening round of the Formula 1 season and all the emotion it brings to the fans to start a new season, I am also very excited by the fact we will be the third last round for a couple of reasons.

“Lewis Hamilton has won the Championship in the third last round three out of the last four years.”

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Since 1996, Melbourne has almost always hosted the Australian Grand Prix on the season’s opening weekend, although many fans will remember the days when Adelaide would bring the campaign to a conclusion.

The Adelaide Street Circuit brought so many key moments in Formula 1 history including final races for the likes of multiple-time World Champions Niki Lauda and Alain Prost, while it hosted two title-deciding races.

It was Prost who was the first to seal a Championship on the circuit in 1986, while Michael Schumacher would go on to do the same in 1994.

Schumacher again won the Drivers’ Championship a year later, in the slot third from last which is the one which Melbourne will take up this year.

That is the sort of drama which Westacott and his colleagues are hoping to recreate when the drivers take to the track on November 21.

He said: “The last time Australia hosted the Formula 1 event in November was in Adelaide in 1995.

“In that year, it was won by Damon Hill, and Michael Schumacher was the winner of the World Championship, again, in the third last round [the Pacific Grand Prix].”

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