Australian Grand Prix cancelled for second year due to pandemic’s ‘challenges’

The Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled for a second straight year due to the “restrictions and logistical challenges” of the pandemic, organisers said.

In January, the event was moved from its usual date in March to November due to Victoria state’s quarantine requirements, with the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) offering a Covid-safe plan that included bubbles for racing teams.

But early on Tuesday AGPC tweeted: “We regret to announce that the 2021 #AusGP has been cancelled due to restrictions and logistical challenges relating to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.”

The announcement came after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday unveiled a new national pandemic plan which includes cutting international flight numbers by half from July 14.

In a statement, AGPC chairman Paul Little said: “We’re deeply disappointed that for a second consecutive year, both MotoGP and Formula One fans won’t be able to see the world’s best riders and drivers compete at the wonderful Phillip Island and Albert Park Grand Prix Circuits.”

“We appreciate the challenge Australia faces with current international travel restrictions and the importance of vaccinations.”

The statement added the AGPC would continue to work with Formula One and the Victorian Government regarding the “calendar timings” for the 2022 event.

Formula One chief executive officer Stefano Domenicali said: “While it is disappointing we won’t be racing in Australia this season, we are 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.

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“We will be working through the details of those options in the coming weeks and will provide further updates once those discussions are concluded.”

Another race at Austin’s Circuit of Americas is an option for F1, while a second visit to Bahrain – venue for the season-opening round back in March – is also on the table.

However, it is worth noting that Bahrain is currently on the government’s red list, along with Brazil and the United Arab Emirates, with Abu Dhabi scheduled to stage the final round of the season on December 12.

Turkey, which is also on the red list, filled the void left by the Singapore Grand Prix when it was cancelled on June 25 due to travel restrictions put in place in the city state, with the alternative race now taking place at Istanbul Park on October 1-3.

Daniel Ricciardo
Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo, now with McLaren, will not have a home race this year (David Davies/PA)

McLaren’s Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo said on grandprix.com.au: “It’s a huge disappointment for all of the drivers that we won’t be coming down to Australia in November, but we understand the reasons.

“For me personally, I can’t wait to have the chance to race at home again, and it’ll be even sweeter when we do because it’s been so long. Fingers crossed things can change for 2022 and we get to see the awesome fans at Albert Park again and put on a good show for them.”

The Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island, which did not go ahead in 2020, has also been deemed impossible to stage this year, with the Malaysia GP being brought forward to take place over October 22-24 as the Algarve GP returns to the calendar to span the November 5-7 weekend.