Expert's call on 'boutique' F1 quarantine for Australian GP

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Quarantine arrangements for the Australian Grand Prix in November could become a sticking point for F1, with the coronavirus outlook in the preceding Brazilian GP still extremely dire. Pictures: Getty Images
Quarantine arrangements for the Australian Grand Prix in November could become a sticking point for F1, with the coronavirus outlook in the preceding Brazilian GP still extremely dire. Pictures: Getty Images

Epidemiologists believe the Victorian and Federal government would have to come to an agreement on 'boutique quarantine' arrangements for F1 teams if the Australian Grand Prix is to go ahead later this year.

The race at Albert Park was postponed from the original date in March back to November, with it now scheduled two weeks after the Brazilian GP in Sao Paulo.

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But with the South American nation still averaging more than 60,000 new cases of the coronavirus every week, epidemiologists have told The Age organisers would likely need to bank on the Brazil race being cancelled in order for the Albert Park event to go ahead.

Despite the likes of Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo suggesting Melbourne host back to back races if the Brazilian GP is cancelled, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation has dismissed the idea.

While the Sao Paolo race is highly rumoured to be cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus situation in Brazil, Deakin Univiersity's Professor Catherine Bennett suggested a split quarantine between Australia and the UK, dependent on their situation later in the year, could be the only suitable option to efficiently quarantine all 10 F1 teams, their drivers and associated staff.

“If the UK has progressed a long way and they have been there for the previous two weeks there might be the opportunity for a travel bubble, which could relieve things,” Bennett said.

“They have talked about having shorter quarantines for people who are vaccinated. If they are not mixing much outside the team, or if the actual case rate in the UK is low ... they are less likely to be infected.

“It all depends on whether they can negotiate something that satisfies the government’s risk appetite, and is acceptable to the teams."

One race has already been cancelled this year after F1 was unable to come to an agreement with the Canadian government over quarantine earlier this year.

The Canadian GP was later replaced on the calendar with the Turkish GP.

Formula One will return to Monaco on May 20 for the fifth round of the 2021 championship season.

Lewis Hamilton wins fifth straight Spanish GP

Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton has hunted down "sitting duck" Max Verstappen to win the Spanish Grand Prix for a record-equalling fifth year in a row and go 14 points clear at the top of the standings.

The Briton's 98th victory on Sunday, coming the day after he'd earned his landmark 100th pole position, was his third in four races as he and his Mercedes team delivered a strategic masterclass after Red Bull's Verstappen, who finished second, seized the lead at the first corner.

The breakthrough came when Hamilton made a second pitstop with 23 laps to go, returning on fresh tyres but some 22 seconds behind his Dutch rival.

Hamilton rapidly closed the gap, defying computer predictions that he would take until the last lap, to sweep past his helpless rival with six to spare in a re-run of his epic chase of Verstappen at the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates victory in the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton celebrates victory in the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

"Such a close start... and then after that just hunting," said Hamilton, the first to succeed from pole this season and now a six-times winner at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

"It was a long way to come back from 20-odd seconds back but it was a good gamble, a really great strategy by the team."

Verstappen, who pitted for fresh tyres after he had lost the lead to secure a bonus point for fastest lap, said he could see it coming.

"Bit of a sitting duck... we were just clearly lacking pace. I tried everything I could."

Hamilton's Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas finished third in a repeat of the podium from the prior Portuguese Grand Prix.

With AAP

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