Australia, China F1 races postponed as coronavirus hits 2021 calendar

Tanya Simon
January 12, 2021

Formula One postponed the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix on Tuesday due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Bahrain now set to open the season on March 28.

"With the scheduled date not being feasible for China, Imola will return to the Formula 1 calendar on the revised date of 18th April".

The race, held in Melbourne's Albert Park Circuit, will be contested on November 21, subject to World Motor Sport Council approval.

It is the second time in two years that F1's traditional curtain-raiser in Melbourne has been affected by the pandemic, which forced the first 10 races of the 2020 season to be called off and resulted in a revised 17-round schedule which did not get underway until July in Austria.

The Australian race, usually the season-opener, was delayed from March to November, but no new date was set for the Chinese Grand Prix in a rejigged 2021 calendar.

"The ongoing situation regarding COVID-19 has meant it is not feasible to begin the season in Melbourne", Formula 1 said in a statement.

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The Italian circuit is tipped to host its 2021 race on 18 April, with the news to be announced by the president of the Emilia-Romagna region, Stefano Bonaccini, at 9.15am.

F1 has also announced the postponement of the Chinese Grand Prix, which was meant to take place on 11 April as the third round of the season.

"The global pandemic has not yet allowed life to return to normal, but we showed in 2020 that we can race safely as the first worldwide sport to return", F1 president Stefano Domenicali said in a statement.

Motorsport Australia chief executive Eugene Arocca also backed the date change. There is a vacant slot May 2.

The Catalan government gave the green light last month for the circuit to conclude negotiations with Formula 1 and on Monday the 2021 event was signed-off, with the race weekend scheduled to take place from May 7th to May 9th.

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