Australian Grand Prix likely to be postponed due to COVID-19

VIDEO SHOWS: FILE FOOTAGE OF ALBERT PARK - THE VENUE FOR THE AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX / FILE FOOTAGE OF MELBOURNE DURING A COVID-19 LOCKDOWN IN 2020 / FILE FOOTAGE OF FORMULA ONE TEAMS - MERCEDES, FERRARI, RED BULL AND RACING POINT

SHOWS:

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (FILE - MARCH 11, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. VARIOUS OF PREPARATIONS FOR THE 2019 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX IN MELBOURNE

2. MELBOURNE SKYLINE

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (FILE - AUGUST 12, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

3. VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING DOWN PATH WITH MELBOURNE SKYLINE IN BACKGROUND

4. PERSON SWIMMING IN OCEAN

5. PEOPLE WALKING AND PUSHING PRAM NEAR CLOSED KIOSK

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (FILE - 2020) (AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION - Broadcasters: NO USE AUSTRALIA Digital: NO USE AUSTRALIA .COM.AU INTERNET SITES / ANY INTERNET SITE OF ANY AUSTRALIAN BASED MEDIA ORGANISATIONS OR MOBILE PLATFORMS / AUSTRALIAN NVO CLIENTS / SMH.COM.AU / NEWS.COM.AU)

6. TRAM PASSING IN FRONT OF FLINDERS STREET STATION

7. ENTRANCE TO FLINDERS STREET STATION

8. EXTERIOR OF MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND

9. SIGN ON MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND READING 'PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE & KEEP 1.5M APART'

10. CLOSED SHOPFRONTS

11. NEARLY EMPTY HIGHWAY

SILVERSTONE, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - FEBRUARY 14, 2020) (MERCEDES VNR - NO RESALES)

12. LEWIS HAMILTON LOOKING AT HIS MERCEDES CAR WITH AN ENGINEER

13. MERCEDES DRIVER VALTTERI BOTTAS SHAKING HANDS WITH ENGINEERS

14. LEWIS HAMILTON PUTTING ON CRASH HELMET

15. ENGINEERS WORKING ON HAMILTON'S MERCEDES

16. HAMILTON SITTING IN THE CAR AND DRIVING OFF

17. VARIOUS OF HAMILTON AROUND THE TRACK

18. MERCEDES CEO TOTO WOLFF (ON LEFT) WITH BOTTAS WATCHING HAMILTON DRIVE PAST

ISTANBUL, TURKEY (FILE - NOVEMBER 15, 2020) (REUTERS PICTURES - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)

19. TWO STILL PHOTOGRAPHS OF HAMILTON CELEBRATING AFTER WINNING THE TURKISH GRAND PRIX WHICH SEALED HIS SEVENTH F1 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TO EQUAL MICHAEL SCHUMACHER'S RECORD

UNKNOWN LOCATION (FILE - 2020) (MERCEDES VNR - NO RESALES)

20. VARIOUS OF ANIMATION OF MERCEDES F1 CAR WITH BLACK LIVERY

REGGIO EMILIA, ITALY (FILE - FEBRUARY 11, 2020) (FERRARI HANDOUT - ACCESS ALL)

21. VARIOUS OF FERRARI'S SF1000 CAR BEING UNVEILED ONSTAGE AT THE ROMOLO VALLI THEATRE

ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS (FILE - MARCH 4, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

22. RED BULL DRIVER MAX VERSTAPPEN PREPARING TO TEST ZANDVOORT CIRCUIT

23. VARIOUS OF VERSTAPPEN PUTTING ON BALACLAVA AND HELMET

24. VERSTAPPEN SETTING OFF IN CAR

25. VERSTAPPEN ON TRACK

26. VARIOUS OF VERSTAPPEN IN CAR

27. VARIOUS OF VERSTAPPEN ON TRACK

MONDSEE, AUSTRIA (FILE - FEBRUARY 17, 2020) (RACING POINT VIDEO NEWS RELEASE - ACCESS ALL)

28. THE RACING POINT F1 2020 CAR BEING UNVEILED

STORY: The Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne looks set to be rescheduled from its season-opening slot to later in the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a tightening of local quarantine rules.

Tickets for the March 21 race at Albert Park have yet to go on sale.

A Formula One spokesman, asked on Monday (January 4) about media reports of a likely postponement, said the sport looked forward to racing again in March.

He did not specify where, with Bahrain's Grand Prix also scheduled for March.

Local organisers in Melbourne were not immediately available for comment but various reports said a postponement, rather than a cancellation for the second year in a row, was likely to be announced later in January.

Construction work to erect fences and grandstands around the temporary street circuit would normally start by the end of the month.

Last year's Australian grand prix was called off, only hours before first practice was due to start at the Albert Park street circuit, when a McLaren team member tested positive to the virus.

The season eventually started in Austria in July, with the calendar heavily rescheduled and reduced from an original record 22 races to 17 in Europe and the Middle East.

Bahrain's Sakhir circuit, which is due to host round two on March 28, ended up hosting two races at the end of November and in early December.

Teams, drivers and travelling media had to test negative before travelling and again on arrival, with a short quarantine until the results were known.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, Britain's seven times world champion, missed the second race at Sakhir after testing positive for the virus.

Melbourne would involve a far longer period of mandatory isolation.

Hundreds of top tennis players, expected to arrive in Melbourne in mid-January, will have to spend 14 days in quarantine before the Feb. 8-21 Australian Open.

Seven of Formula One's 10 teams are based in England, where cases are surging due to a highly infectious new variant of the coronavirus. Many countries have shut their borders to travellers from Britain.

(Production: Tim Hart)

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