Formula One calendar revealed: Aussie Grand Prix locked in
The Australian Formula One Grand Prix has been confirmed as the opening race of the F1 calendar on March 21 next year.
After this year's event was abandoned on the eve of the season-opening race, Melbourne will launch the 23-race Formula One season at Albert Park in 2021.
Melbourne's retention of its traditional place in the F1 schedule was made official with the release of the provisional F1 calendar on Tuesday night.
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"We are excited to announce our 2021 provisional calendar and delighted we will be starting our season with our long-term partners in Melbourne," Formula One boss Chase Carey said.
"Andrew Westacott and his team do an incredible job and we know the season opener at Albert Park will be one that fans can safely enjoy after an unprecedented 2020."
Australian Grand Prix Corporation chief executive Andrew Westacott was confident the event could be held in a COVID-safe manner.
He said the AGPC was continuing to work with governments on its plans for crowds at the March 18-21 event.
"We're thrilled that the 2021 FIA Formula 1 world championship will commence at its traditional home here in Melbourne," Westacott said.
"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 km of track frontage provides us with the perfect opportunity to create a COVID-safe venue."
Due to the complexities surrounding travel during the pandemic, the 2020 F1 season largely centred on Europe with the final three races to be held in the Middle East, but it will return to most familiar venues in 2021.
Melbourne will open the 2021 season ahead of Bahrain and China, while races in Canada, Singapore, Japan, United States and Mexico are also back on the provisional calendar.
The iconic Monaco Grand Prix is back on May 23 after it had to be cancelled this year.
"We are planning for 2021 events with fans that provide an experience close to normal and expect our agreements to be honoured," Carey said.
"We have proven that we can safely travel and operate our races and our promoters increasingly recognise the need to move forward and manage the virus."
This year's Formula One season was thrown into chaos ahead of the opening race after a McLaren team member tested positive for coronavirus, forcing the cancellation of the Albert Park Grand Prix just hours before the cars were due to hit the track for first practice.
After Melbourne, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a Formula One shut down for almost four months before the season rebooted in early July.
Originally published as Formula One calendar revealed: Aussie GP locked in