The Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled due to the ongoing effects of the global pandemic. The news also affects the Australian round of the MotoGP World Championship.
This is the second year in a row that the Melbourne event has been cancelled. It had been scheduled to open this year’s Formula 1 championship, only to be postponed to 19-21 November because of tight border restrictions.
These remain in place in Australia, with travellers forced to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. The rules are likely to continue for the rest of the year, making it unrealistic for teams to travel to the grand prix. Currently, only 7% of adults in Australia are vaccinated against Covid-19.
In a statement, F1 said that an alternative venue will be found to keep the 23-race calendar, although nothing is yet confirmed: “While it is disappointing we won’t be racing in Australia this season, we're confident we can deliver a 23-race season in 2021, and we have a number of options to take forward to replace the place left vacant by the Australian Grand Prix.
"We will be working through the details of those options in the coming weeks and will provide further updates once those discussions are concluded.”
This isn't the first time the 2021 F1 season has been disrupted. The Canadian round was cancelled earlier in the year, to be replaced by Turkey. The Istanbul race was itself then cancelled, only to be subsequently reinstated in place of the Singapore GP, another victim of border controls in the face of the pandemic.
The Japanese and Brazilian rounds remain on the calendar for now, although doubts remain as to whether that will continue to be the case. Japan will host the Olympics and Paralympics this summer, in the face of significant public opposition, while Brazil’s Covid-19 case load remains high.
An extra race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, US, has been mooted.