Australian F1 star Daniel Ricciardo has floated the idea of having two races at Albert Park as Formula One continues to maintain a flexible calendar amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
Typically the F1 season opener, the Australian Grand Prix was delayed from March to November after Melbourne was sent into lockdown earlier this year.
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While the logistical challenges of having the international sport run safely, bearing in mind strict conditions on overseas arrivals will likely remain in place for F1, Ricciardo suggested Albert Park could host back-to-back races if the preceding Brazilian GP has to be cancelled.
Brazil, which is due to host the Sao Paulo GP two weeks before the Australian GP, continues to struggle to contain the coronavirus, registering an average of more than 58,000 new cases of the virus each day in the week ending April 24.
That situation is not lost on F1, with Ricciardo suggesting in an interview with EFTM.com that Albert Park could play host two back to back races if Brazil falls through.
Austria and Bahrain each hosted back to back races in 2020, with the latter running the second GP on an alternate track layout.
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.
“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!
“If there is any, let’s say, form of quarantine when we get there, to do a double-header at least would make the time worthwhile."
Daniel Ricciardo backs Australian GP double-header
The F1 field will likely be required to complete two weeks of quarantine before the race can go ahead, further bolstering Ricciardo's argument that two races were viable.
“Hopefully we get a bit of time in Aus as opposed to quarantine (and then the) circuit. I know all the drivers love going to Melbourne for the race," Ricciardo said.
“In Australia, everyone knows how beautiful it is, so if I called all the drivers right now and said, ‘Hey, what do you feel about spending two weeks in Australia?’ I’m pretty sure none of them are going to whinge and moan.”
Formula 1 will return for round three of the 2021 season on May 9, for the Spanish GP.
Ricciardo has enjoyed a solid, if not spectacular start to his tenure with McLaren after switching from Renault early in 2020.
The 31-year-old followed a seventh place finish in his debut for the team in Bahrain with a sixth place at the Emilia Romagna GP.
Teammate Lando Norris has shown a better turn of speed in the early stages of the season, impressing in qualifying and finishing fourth and third in the first two rounds respectively.
The pair's string start to the season has helped McLaren to third in the constructor's championship after two rounds, behind Mercedes and Red Bull.
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