Now Covid hits the NEXT Formula One season! Australian Grand Prix is set to be postponed due to strict travel and quarantine restrictions Down Under – and work on the track hasn’t even started ahead of season opener
- The F1 season was scheduled to get underway on March 21 in Melbourne
- It comes a year after the race was cancelled hours before Friday practice
- Australia still have strict travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus crisis
- There are also fears over the emergence of a new strain of Covid-19
- Sportsmail understands F1 officials have accepted for the race to be postponed
Lewis Hamilton’s latest defence of his Formula One title is facing disruption before it has even begun with the opening round of the 2021 in Australia set to be postponed until later in the year.
It comes just a year after the 2020 opening race in Melbourne was cancelled just hours before Friday practice, in a season disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Amid worldwide fears over a new strain of Covid-19, as well as Australia still enforcing strict travel restrictions, concerns have grown over whether the race on March 21 will be able to go ahead.
Lewis Hamilton will be looking to win a record-breaking eighth F1 championship this season
It comes a year after the season-opening race was cancelled because of the Covid-19 crisis
Sportsmail understand that officials have agreed for the race to be postponed from March 21 until later in the season, with an announcement expected next week.
This would result in a reshuffle of the races, and the season instead getting underway at the Bahrain Grand Prix which is scheduled for March 28.
It is not yet known when in the year the race which takes place at Albert Park in Melbourne would be moved to.
The country has taken a strong stance towards limiting the spread of Covid-19 since the outbreak last year, closing its borders to non-residents shortly after the race was cancelled last March.
Strict quarantine rules have been in place forcing all arrivals in Australia and those moving between states to spend two weeks in designated quarantine hotels.
Construction work for the Australian Grand Prix, which takes place on a temporary street circuit, normally gets started at the end of January.
Fans only found out hours before the Friday practice last year that the event was cancelled
However, ticket sales have not yet started for the event, due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.
The 2020 season was marred as a result of the pandemic with 13 races cancelled as a result.
In a shortened season, Lewis Hamilton waltzed his way to his seventh F1 championship in 2020
However they were able to deliver a 17-race season, with double headers in Austria, Great Britain and Bahrain, and by adding a number of tracks which had not been scheduled on the original calendar.
Despite missing a race due to a positive test, Lewis Hamilton waltzed his way to a seventh F1 championship, matching the record of the great Michael Schumacher.
Last year’s cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix came after the McLaren team withdrew from the Melbourne event because a team member tested positive for Covid-19. Top drivers were also refusing to take part in the race due to health concerns.
Disappointed racing fans believe they were left in the dark as Formula One failed to effectively communicate whether the event would go ahead.
The Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28 could be the season-opening race if Australia is delayed
F1 conducted rigorous testing for Covid-19 since the delayed start to the 2020 season, ensuring all paddock personnel attending events test negative before being allowed on site.
This is to carry on next season, and it is hoped that the pandemic won’t affect the calendar as much as it did last year.
If he successfully defends the championship this season, Hamilton will move ahead of Schumacher to become the only driver to have won eight world championships.
Any postponement would also raise questions about the Australian Open tennis, with the tournament set to take place in Melbourne from February 8 for two weeks.
Currently the tournament is still set to go ahead though players will have to serve a 14-day quarantine period in the city before it gets underway.
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