Australia, China F1 races postponed as coronavirus hits 2021 calendar

Australia, China F1 races postponed as coronavirus hits 2021 calendar”

The traditional curtain-raiser at Melbourne's Albert Park will move to November, while the round in Shanghai, scheduled to take place on April 11, will now only go ahead if another round drops off the schedule.

As such, the 2021 schedule will look different to the one originally announced by F1 back in November, with Imola making an unexpected return to the calendar, having filled in as an additional race on the re-written 2020 calendar.

Ongoing worldwide lockdown measures and travel restrictions mean the 2021 calendar is subject to similar revisions. "The Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix is one of the great events in the world and we'll make sure it can be run safely and successfully in November", Mr Pakula said.

Australia was given a new date of November 21 for what would normally be the season-opener in Melbourne.

"As stated previously, Formula 1 expects fans to return to the grandstands and the exclusive Paddock Club for the 2021 season".

F1 still plans to hold a record 23 races this year, although a venue for the third race of the season, on 2 May, has yet to be confirmed.

The race would have proved a huge challenge from a logistical point of view in the current climate, with the construction of the temporary circuit required to start before the end of January to ensure the event could take place on time creating additional hurdles.

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The date change means that there will only be a four-week gap separating the MotoGP Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix weekend at Phillip Island from October 22-24 and the Formula 1 race in the same state.

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.

Formula One said it expected fans to return to the grandstands and the exclusive Paddock Club during the 2021 season after most races were held behind closed doors a year ago.

"Obviously, the virus situation remains fluid, but we have the experience from last season with all our partners and promoters to adapt accordingly and safely in 2021".

The Chinese Grand Prix was the first race to be postponed in last year's Covid-disturbed schedule. Last year's race in Australia was canceled after one team member tested positive for the coronavirus.

Lewis Hamilton emerged as the drivers' champion.

Most of those races were held behind closed doors but it is hoped fans could be present for the opening round in Bahrain.

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