Formula 1 is already set for a 2021 schedule shift

Australian Grand Prix, Formula 1 (Photo credit: WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
Australian Grand Prix, Formula 1 (Photo credit: WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images) /

The 2021 Formula 1 season is set to be delayed, with the Australian Grand Prix likely to be postponed to later in the year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic-delayed and shortened 17-race 2020 Formula 1 season went off without a hitch from a scheduling perspective once it finally got started in early July with the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, a change is already expected to the 2021 calendar.

The Australian Grand Prix, which was one of 13 casualties from the initial 22-race 2020 schedule as a result of the pandemic, will likely not be contested at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit to open up the record-breaking 23-race 2021 season as scheduled on Sunday, March 21.

This race was also slated to open up the 2020 season. In fact, the teams and drivers were ready to open up the 2020 campaign back in mid-March before the event was ultimately cancelled prior to the opening free practice due to a McLaren team member testing positive for COVID-19.

The Australian Grand Prix had opened up 22 of the last 24 Formula 1 seasons entering 2020.

While this may not be confirmed for quite some time, now it is slated to miss its season opening date for two years in a row as a result of strict new quarantine restrictions in Melbourne, Australia.

Here is what Sky Sports News‘ Craig Slater had to say about the matter.

"“It hasn’t been postponed yet – and I don’t expect an official announcement today or in the next few days. But one insider has told me that it is impossible that it can take place under the current Covid restrictions in force in Australia.”"

Melbourne is slated to host its first major international event in nearly a year next month, with that being the Australian Open tennis tournament.

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The Victorian government has made a 14-day quarantine period mandatory for all personnel. Applied to Formula 1, those same rules would not allow for the race to be run as scheduled, given the sport’s 2021 calendar.

Unlike last year, the 58-lap race around the16-turn, 3.296-mile (5.304-kilometer) road course in Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia is expected to be rescheduled at some point throughout the remainder of the season, which is scheduled to run through Sunday, December 5 with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.

This postponement means that the season opener is slated to be the Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday, March 28.

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As noted above, only twice from 1996 through 2019 had the Australian Grand Prix not opened up the season. Both times it didn’t, the Bahrain Grand Prix did, with those two occurrences having taken place in 2006 and 2010.