F1: Australia to lose season opening slot

The Australian F1 race may lose its ‘traditional’ slot as the season opener.

At the press conference confirming the event’s cancellation for a second successive year, it was revealed that Melbourne – which has a contract to host the race until 2025 – will almost certainly no longer host the season opener.

“We will start discussions with Formula One Management very shortly about next year,” said Paul Little, chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, “and extensions based on being able to make up for the last two years.

“We’re thinking April is a date that we would like to be able to make some positive moves on,” he added.

Little admits that next year’s date will still depend on the national and global situation in terms of the pandemic.

2019 Australian Grand Prix, Sunday – LAT Images

“We need to follow through till the end of this year, we need to see what vaccination rates are like, we need to see what the federal government does with visitation rights,” he explained.

“Off the back of that we’ll know a lot more about whether or not April is viable.”

“We’ve been talking April with F1 for some time,” added Martin Pakula, Victoria’s Minister for tourism, sport and major events. “This year, other events went into that first and second race slot and I think F1 is keen to continue with those events being the first and second race of the year,” he added, referring to Bahrain and Imola.

“So we’ve been looking at April for some period of time, it’s not set in stone, and we’ll continue those discussions.

“It’s unlikely to be the first race next year but frankly, that probably suits us.”

FIA Formula 1 Race Director Michael Masi , who is Australian, says the cancellation of Australia’s Grand Prix is “highly disappointing”.

“On the weekend in Austria we’ve now completed 26 races in 52 weeks if we go back 12 months, which is a sign of the strength of what Formula One and the FIA together have developed,” Mr Masi told Sky News host Andrew Bolt.

“As an Australian it’s highly disappointing not being able to get there in November.”