The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix will be postponed to the final months of the year, with Bahrain to host the season opener instead, according to Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll.
The boss of the team formerly known as Racing Point told Reuters the official announcement would be made soon.
“Melbourne has been – it’s not officially announced but it will be – not cancelled but postponed. We will go there sometime in the fall (autumn) and the first race will be Bahrain,” Stroll said.
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With the Canadian billionaire referring to the northern hemisphere seasons, that would see the Australian Grand Prix held between September and November.
It would appear most likely the Albert Park race could be squeezed in during October or November, with some potential shuffling of existing races required.
On the current F1 schedule, the European season ends on September 26 in Russia, before Singapore on October 3, and then Japan on October 10.
The race could theoretically be held on October 17, though that would only give a week before the US Grand Prix on October 24, and a five-week stretch of uninterrupted racing across four continents seems unlikely.
The season then continues in Mexico (October 31) and Brazil (November 14) before heading to the Middle East, in Saudi Arabia (November 28) and Abu Dhabi (December 5).
Autosport first reported last week the season-opening Australian race, originally scheduled for March 21, was in doubt due to the country’s COVID-19 border restrictions.
“I do believe we’re in for a difficult two or three months,” Stroll said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine. I think the first few races will be slightly challenging.
“But Formula One management and the FIA, I really take my hat off to them to deliver 17 races as we did last year in 23 weeks, without really any major hiccups, in a very impressive manner.
“I think the worst is behind us and we’ve learnt through last year how to proceed with this year.”
Meanwhile Stroll’s Aston Martin team announced a new title sponsor, IT company Cognizant, on Friday which will see the team transition from a primary colour of pink to green.
His son Lance and former Ferrari and Red Bull star Sebastian Vettel will drive for the team in 2021.