The Australian Grand Prix Corporation is working with local government and health authorities on a plan to get fans through the gates at next March’s Formula 1 season opener.
The Melbourne race has been confirmed for 21 March on the F1 schedule and will host the planned 2021 season opener.
That news comes amid Melbourne’s cautious reopening from a deadly second COVID-19 wave, which saw cases in the city peak at over 700 per day in July.
The city was in differing stages of lockdown from early July onwards, harsh Stage 4 restrictions, which at one point kept people indoors for 23 hours per day, only lifting in recent weeks.
The payoff has been an extreme suppression off the virus, with Melbourne now on its 10th day of zero cases and effectively on par with the rest of Australia.
With a new ‘COVID normal’ expected to be in place before Christmas, there is reason for optimism that crowds will be welcome at the Australian GP next March.
Other parts of the country are already letting crowds of tens of thousands in stadiums, and the race organisers are working with health officials and the Victorian government on what may be feasible at Albert Park.
“We’re thrilled that the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship will commence at its traditional home here in Melbourne,” said AGPC CEO Andrew Westacott.
“We continue to work closely with health authorities and the Victorian government as we develop our plans for fan attendance, which will be announced when finalised.
“We’re adopting a sensible, adaptable and flexible approach, ensuring that a safe environment for fans and participants is our top priority.
“Our massive parkland venue with 10.6 kilometres of track frontage provides us with the perfect opportunity to create a COVID-safe venue.”
Access to Australia is the biggest unknown ahead of the Australian GP, with the country’s borders unlikely to be fully opened until a vaccine is in play.
That means personnel and drivers coming from overseas may be forced to complete two weeks of hotel quarantine before being allowed into the country for the race.