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The Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled for the second year running, the Victorian government announced on Tuesday.
Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula and Australian Grand Prix CEO Andrew Westacott made the announcement, confirming F1 fans would have to wait another year for racing to return to Albert Park.
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The 2021 race had been provisionally pushed back from its regular early-season timeslot to November in the hope COVID-19 restrictions would have eased by then.
However difficulties around getting all 10 teams and associated staff through the two-week quarantine period were behind the decision to cancel the race.
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation presented a COVID-safe plan to the government, arguing the event could be run safely with the drivers and crews operating within a bubble.
Drivers are reportedly reluctant to go into hard quarantine, which allowed international tennis players to compete at the Australian Open earlier this year.
The Australian MotoGP will also not go ahead at Phillip Island this year for the same reasons.
"It's very disappointing that these much-loved events can't proceed but this is the reality of the pandemic - but until we get much higher vaccination rates we cannot return to more normal settings," Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula said on Tuesday.
"We are getting to work on plans for 2022 immediately and can't wait to welcome the world's best drivers and riders and all motorsport fans back to Albert Park and Phillip Island."
F1 fans in Australia were left devastated by the news, which broke on Tuesday morning.
Many took to social media to express their sadness and frustration, many pointing to Australia's slow rollout of the coronavirus vaccine as the culprit.
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Formula One already has a race scheduled in Brazil for Nov 5-7, leaving little time for a two-week hotel quarantine before the November 19-21 event in Melbourne.
The Brazilian GP remains no certainty to go ahead due to the increased spread of the coronavirus throughout the South American nation, which had given Australian racing fans optimism for a potential double-header at Albert Park.
Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo vouched for the idea himself earlier in the year.
Ricciardo hinted he wasn't the only driver in the F1 field who would be happy to see a double up at Albert Park.
“I am aware of Brazil currently is not in a good place with COVID,” Ricciardo said in April.
“I think, if we were scheduled to go there this weekend, then yeah, I’m pretty convinced it would be up in the air.
“For now, they’re kind of on the hope that by then things settle down, but if it’s still as it is then that race could potentially be in question.
“They’re obviously keen on 23 [races] this year. A bit like last year, I’m sure there are maybe some circuits, call it, that could fill some gaps if some are lost.
“We’ll see, maybe a double-header in Australia!".
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