Australian GP mulling permanent move to November

© XPB 

The organisers of the Australian Grand Prix are considering whether to give up their prestigious spot as the traditional Formula 1 season opener.

The race at Melbourne's Albert Park has been the first race on the calendar for almost every season since 1996, with the exception of 2006 and 2010 when Bahrain took pole position.

Last year's race was called off at the last minute because of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and this year's race has also been pushed back from March to mid-November.

Now it seems that this switch may be made permanent, in what would be a swap between the F1 Grand Prix and the annual MotoGP motorcycling race at Phillip Island. However any such plans are still very much in their early days.

"I can't emphasise highly enough that there is nothing definitive about the calendars in 2022," Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Andrew Westacott told

"We always enjoy the opening race position with Formula 1," he continued. "It suits us and it's a major pillar of Melbourne's major events calendar.

"What I've also said is that a change of the nature we have now with a November [F1] event gives us the opportunity to look at four very distinct scenarios," he explained. "One is that both events are in an early season slot, February or March.

"Another is both races being in a late season slot in October or November. The traditional F1 at the start and MotoGP at the end, or the flip – MotoGP at the start and F1 at the end.

"I've got a very open mind about all of those four scenarios, and the pros and cons and opportunities they present to the sport," he added.

Circuit atmosphere - flags. 12.03.2020

"All of them are on the table and a combination will be decided on when the calendars are finalised during the middle of this year."

The country has just played host to the Australian Open tennis championship, but it was not without problems.

Players arriving in the country had to undergo a full two-week quarantine in hotels upon arrival. Midway through the tournament the state of Victoria was briefly put back into lockdown following an outbreak of new cases of COVID, meaning that spectators were no longer allowed into the stadium.

But Australia has now started its vaccine programe and it is expected to be completed by October, which would allow both the MotoGP and F1 races to go ahead toward the end of 2021.

"We have the opportunity to continually develop and continuously improve the approach to staging events noted Westacott. "We've got time now to do that, based on learnings from the tennis.

"From vaccine rollouts, from hotel quarantine, from all sorts of other health-related approaches - it's going to stand us in better stead to stage the event in November."

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