Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula has revealed his expectation that Formula 1 will return to Australia in April next year after the current-season event was cancelled on Tuesday.
Despite teams travelling to Melbourne in 2020, the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent positive cases registered in the F1 paddock resulted in the event’s cancellation.
This year, the race was pushed back from its position as the season-opener to become the third-last race of the year in November, but on Tuesday it was announced this was no longer possible.
“I had a conversation with the CEO of Formula 1 management Stefano Domenicali on Monday night,” Pakula said.
“It was a very cordial conversation, we have a good relationship. I fully expect that these events will occur in 2022.
“We’re aiming for an early-season F1 event next year and a MotoGP on a date still to be determined, but we will work very closely, both the government [and] the AGPC with Formula 1 Management and MotoGP to deliver those events.”
Adding further detail, he commented: “We’ve been talking April with F1 for some time.
“As you know, this year other events went into that first and second slot and I think F1 are keen to continue with those events.”
Although there remains a significant amount of time before F1 was due to arrive in Melbourne, F1 is keen to finalise its fixture list for the remainder of the season with a 23 race calendar still a priority for Domenicali.
Despite the disappointment at again missing out on hosting both F1 and MotoGP, Pakula said: “Quite legitimately, Formula 1 and MotoGP required assurances and undertakings and guarantees this week about the conduct of those events,” said Pakula.
“I really do want to emphasise that I take no issue with the fact those organisations needed that assurance this week.
“There’s a few months to go but they need to plan, and they need to have contingencies in place and given the very low national two-dose-vaccination numbers, and given the decision of National Cabinet on Friday, we’re simply not in a position to give F1 management or MotoGP the sorts of guarantees, assurances and comfort that they need this week.
“I understand that for motorsports fans and for major events fans this is very disappointing news but some 1600 visitors in November, with the bespoke quarantine arrangements needed, in an environment when national cabinet has decided to half international arrivals and not look at different quarantine arrangement probably until the beginning of 2022, really makes it extremely difficult for us to give those organisations the guarantees they require.”