Meanwhile in Australia

The Australian Open will start on 8 February 2021 – after being delayed three weeks because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The event was originally scheduled to run from January 18-31. This is a good sign for the Australian Grand Prix. However, it remains to be seen if F1 will agree (or be able to agree) to a period of 14 day quarantine for the whole of the F1 circus.

The Open is going ahead because the players will arrive by January 15 and will stay in quarantine until the event. It is highly doubtful that the same will happen with F1 and the numbers of people involved will mean that such arrangements are not practical.

Sources within F1 say that it is unlikely that the commercial rights holder will agree to this and if the Australian government refuses to compromise, the race may not happen.

Whatever the case, a decision is needed quickly in order for the necessary construction work to begin. The amount of construction depends to some extent on how many spectators will be allowed to attend. And that is also important for the funding of the Albert Park event, as the politicians cannot easily agree to making a big loss, having lost a pile of public money in March his year when the event was cancelled at the last minute.

The costs of 14 days on quarantine need also to be considered as this would be equivalent to two or three Grands Prix.

32 thoughts on “Meanwhile in Australia

  1. It’s too risky being a street race. Invest a lot less money they building Philip Island up to spec to race there for this year and have a tonne more flexibility.

  2. My £5 says that the race won’t happen on the published date. I don’t want to be pessimistic, especially this far ahead of time, but my daughter lives in Perth, WA, and her advice to me is still that Australia is not going to be open any time soon.

    1. If it was up to the WA Premier – agree with your Daughter.
      The Victorian Premier – Dan Andrews – needs to provide some feel good experiences after the stringent but very successful lockdown but can’t allow the successful run to breakdown. Nearly 50 straight days of zero new cases ATM.
      Australian Open Quali will be in Doha – which sucks for the Aussie players but this is no template for F1.
      There will have to be major compromises from VIC Government and F1 to ensure this race is run.
      Tough when you hear that travel won’t really happen until end 2021.

  3. It’s amazing that the season ended on Sunday and yet construction for the first of 2021’s races needs to start asap!

  4. The figures for F1 positive tests have been made public and everything has clearly been managed exceptionally well, especially as a number of the positive tests were local people rather than part of the travelling circus. I’d have thought the issue for Melbourne is about the number of infections that could be caused to locals by F1’s visit, which I’d have thought fall into two categories: contacts of F1 personnel and contact between those attending the event. The latter will dictate attendance policy should the event go ahead and strongly influence financial viability considerations in deciding whether it’s affordable. My question is whether there is any evidence to suggest F1 personnel have caused any local spikes, the answer to which could influence the consideration of alternative quarantine options, perhaps along the lines of Hungary or some kind of biosphere.

    F1 has been the exception rather than the rule many times this year and, I think, has proved itself responsible and worthy of that status, so here’s hoping.

  5. Its not been oked by the government, so they could still pull the pin on it. There are 5 new local transmitted cases in NSW at the moment so wouldn’t count your chickens just yet

  6. Public expectations in Australia is 0/0 (i.e. 0 cases and 0 deaths).

    We’ve just had two outbreaks in Sydney due to contact with international air crews (hotel maid and airpoprt shuttle driver), so expect a tightening of the rules for our ‘international guests’, including air crews and diplomats.

    Politicians won’t care too much the financial loss generated from the Aus GP for two reasons:
    1. protecting the public is what gets State Premiers and MPs reelected, and
    2. the financial loss from the GP will be tiny if we look at the economy holistically. We’re doing pretty well at the moment (touch wood) and we won’t accept jeapordising the country’s finances, and our somehow ‘normal’ way of life, for the sake of an F1 race.

    So assuming it will get cancelled, I’ve booked tickets for the Mount Panorama 500 Supercars race on the 27-28 Feb!

  7. I have sent my work team to Europe and back, returning last week.
    It is a bureaucratic nightmare to enter/exit Australia.

    I cannot foresee the government granting the number of exemptions required for the F1 circus, nor believe the 14 day hotel quarantine arrangements can support the influx.

    Currently Melbourne is capped at receiving 1,120 international travellers per WEEK. Australian citizens and residents are prioritised, with nearly 40,000 expats overseas is it stands today.

    2020 ruined my run of consecutive attendances, been to all Australian Grand Prix from 1985!

    1. “2020 ruined my run of consecutive attendances, been to all Australian Grand Prix from 1985!”

      How did it break your run of consecutive attendances… it didn’t happen, so you didn’t miss attending it…
      Get yourself to the next one, whenever it happens, and you still have consecutive attendances…

  8. The crowd won’t be too much of an issue, one of the State of Origin rugby matches in Brisbane had 52,000 there a couple of weeks ago. The issue will be the border, which is still firmly closed to all but Australian nationals.

    A biosphere, as in Abu Dhabi, is going to be needed. But it’s a bit harder to manage that in a park in the middle of a city, rather than in a purpose-built theme park in the middle of the desert.

    I wouldn’t expect the Australian GP to go ahead.

        1. Thanks Damien, the crowd at Suncorp was 52,500 so it was a full house.

          My point was that spectator numbers may well not need a cap. The question whether Victoria- or even the whole of Australia- can supply enough spectators to make money is a different one. I’d agree with Joe there that there probably isn’t enough Aussies to let the event break even.

  9. As an Australian living here I would say 5% chance without 14-days quarantine. About 80% chance with 14-days quarantine. Currently the populace are showing less and less tolerance for visitors as many thousands of Australians cannot return. Our international borders are closed to all but a few and any gradual easing of that is only likely to occur when specific countries have had majority rollout of a vaccine. The decision to let the tennis go ahead, even with the 14 day’s quarantine, is not universally being well received here. A sport, such as F1, perceived even more so as the playground of billionaires is unlikely to be supported in breaking rules. This is my opinion as someone who follows F1. I hope for all the fans in Aust that the decision to race or not is made by the end of January.

  10. I agree Colin. There is a chance of some flights without 14-days quarantine from New Zealand starting in January if both countries continue to have minimal (I.e. less than 100 cases, including those in hotel quarantine). However, I am not aware of any serious talk about other countries – especially those that currently have many cases, such as unfortunately the homes of many F1 teams.

  11. When I look at the FIA 2021 F1 calendar I feel there are a number of races that will not happen as the destination/facilities/timing will not be viable. Australia being one of them.

    For me 2021 is going to be an interim F1 season that will sit somewhere between a normal F1 calendar and the 2020 calendar.

    On a positive note. I did like the introduction of one off races at old style F1 circuits and double headers on different layouts in 2020. Perhaps this should continue in 2021 if races are needed to plug gaps in the calendar.

  12. FoM is pushing their luck with this 2021 schedule. If they work smarter, they can do the Middle East in Early March – April combined with testing, then do the European leg, and then the flyaways in Australia, Asia and America in the latter part of the year. This way they do all the races proven in 2020 early. Hopefully, by June the vaccine would be available in most countries, and the risks of intercontinental travel much would have reduced.

  13. Hi Joe, sorry this being off topic, but what do you make of Redbull’s rude, cold and almost hostile let-go of Kvyat?

    Every other team paid some respects to their outgoing driver. Kvyat and the team must have known that last Sunday was his last race for the team and probably in F1. But no mentioning from Redbull anywhere. What has he done to put off those in charge? I think he handled all the BS they threw at him over the years with dignity and respect. But he must have gotten the worst treatment of any Redbull driver ever. What a disgrace by the teams.

  14. 14-day quarantine for the whole paddock sounds like insanity, especially that time of the year where teams are still running back & forth to the last day to get the car ready. 2 day quarantine at best seems ok. Anything else isn’t worth it for the financial cost alone, Some teams shouldn’t even bother turning up. Paddock folk will have a culture shock when they’re not pampered like the W Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi & spend their time squatting spiders in classic miserable Hiltons in Melbourne in cramped shared rooms. Just do Bahrain x2 to kickstart & save the embarrassment of Australia March 2020, I’m not sure those present in Melbourne realised how farcical it was to the rest of the world/Europe as it was during the day here & everyone looked like clowns in F1 & we watched it unfold live. F1 did well to recover from that circus & is lucky it didn’t make the front pages due to the wider covid newscycle at the time.

  15. The lowest common denominator sees any foreigners coming in as infected lepers. Tens of thousands of Australian’s are still waiting their turn to get home and do their 14 day stint in a room with no windows so the optics of 1000+ F1 crew arriving and either taking their place or getting some kind of special treatment won’t go over well with us “forgotten Aussies”.

    Personally, I hope F1 decides better and cancels the race. Honestly, does anyone look forward to Melbourne as a track that provides exciting races? Unless there’s rain it’s almost always incredibly boring and inevitably leads to 1-2 weeks of articles about how F1 needs to be fixed and how no-one can overtake. Then the circus arrives in Bahrain and puts on a cracking show and everyone quiets down until May.

    So let’s kick things off with a double header in Bahrain so we can see the cars race around the outer-loop again.

  16. Joe, I want to wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Years. By firm wish for the F1 Fraternity is good health, peace, and love.

    We will have to wait and see about 2021 won’t we ? Any sense how Vettel will do with Aston Martin as well as Danny in the McLaren? Mercedes may win again. But the midfield is pretty exciting!

  17. So Sepang could be the season opener?
    Better track than Melbourne anyway.
    Then it’ll be one of Portimao, Istanbul Park (preferable) Imola or Mugello filling the vacant Apr 25 slot.

    Don’t suppose there’s a chance of a 2nd British race is there Joe?

      1. I think you probably right Joe.

        If correct hopefully they be able to slightly re jig the calendar and do a double header like this year using both the long and short track layouts.

  18. As someone who lives in Melbourne I would say there is zero chance of the gp in Australian going ahead in March. The approval for any special rules for f1 lies for the Victorian chief medical officer and with what has gone on this in Melbourne that’s not going to happen. If there was any special rules for f1 there would be massive public backlash look at what happen to the Cox plate horse race several weeks ago. Hopefully in 2022

  19. I would think that to get into australia next year without quarantine one would need to have had a covid vaccination. However, Vaccinating the whole F1 circus before the vaccines have been rolled out to all at risk can’t happen even if they have loads of money.

  20. Hi Joe,
    I was one of the few who managed to get to the Aus gp on the Thursday and was also fortunate enough to attend the audience with Joe on the Friday.
    Being a local I would say there’s no chance the 2021 race will happen.
    I would say they will have to make a call on it fairly early in the new year before they start building the circuit.
    It has been tremendous the way the Vic government got our state out of the covid mess they got themselves into and I would expect they would be very cautious about bringing all that hard work undone.
    And by the way Joe, thanks for all your efforts in managing to get to all the races.Your articles and gp plus has been tremendous.

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