JAKARTA - The opening race for the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix season in Melbourne is likely to be rescheduled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the tight quarantine regulations in the Kangaroo Country.
The organizing committee has not yet sold tickets for the race, which was scheduled to take place on March 21 at Albert Park.
An F1 spokesman, quoted by Antara from Reuters on Monday, said the "land jet" race wanted to start the 2021 season in March but he did not specify which country will host the opening series as Bahrain also occupies the March slot.
"In 2020 we prove that we can race safely and make what was thought impossible by March," the spokesman said.
"We have fixed the 2021 calendar and are looking forward to F1 returning in March this year."
Local promoters in Melbourne have yet to provide official comment on the news but local media are reporting there will likely be a postponement announcement, rather than a second successive cancellation, later in January.
Installation of fences and spectator stands on the street circuit usually begins at the end of this month.
Last year the Australian Grand Prix was canceled, hours before the free practice session began at the Albert Park Circuit, when one of the McLaren team's staff tested positive for the coronavirus.
The 2020 season then started only in July in Austria, with the number of races reduced from 22 to 17 taking place in Europe and the Middle East.
The Sakhir Circuit in Bahrain, which occupies the March 28 slot as the second race, staged two consecutive races in late November and early December last year.
Teams, riders and media crews must find negative test results for the corona virus before leaving and arriving in the Grand Prix host country, with a short quarantine period before test results are known.
Mercedes racer Lewis Hamilton, who won his seventh world title last season, missed the second race in Bahrain after catching COVID-19.
Melbourne will require a longer period of isolation.
Hundreds of the world's top players, who are expected to arrive in Melbourne in mid-January, will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period before competing at the Australian Open on February 8-21.
Seven of the 10 F1 teams are based in the UK, where COVID-19 cases have increased due to the new, more virulent variant of the corona virus.
A number of countries have closed their gates like travelers arriving from England.
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