Date no longer on Australian F1 and MotoGP event table
Australia’s international motorsport calendar is expected to remain broadly unchanged, with Formula 1 and MotoGP likely to maintain their positions at either end of the season.
Speculation out of Europe had suggested the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix could move to the start of the calendar, a concept event boss Andrew Westacott admits has been discussed.
It was the revised November date given to the Formula 1 race last year.
With rumors of a potential date swap having died down, Westacott confirmed that things will likely stay as they are, at least for now.
“No, we’ve talked about it, but for now I think it’s going to play out like this,” the Australian GP CEO told Speedcafe.com.
His comments come at a time when Formula 1 is working on formulating next year’s calendar and establishing exactly where Australia will sit.
From the AGPC’s perspective, having F1 and MotoGP events at alternate ends of their respective calendars makes sense, spreading the workload across staff more evenly.
Melbourne has often been the opening round of the Formula 1 season, although this year it was round three, with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia hosting the first two events of the year back to back.
Logistically and financially, it made sense for teams with pre-season testing in Sakhir and then staying in the region for the next event.
There is a desire in the F1 paddock to pair the Melbourne race with one in the region given the cost and challenge of international freight.
Singapore and Japan have usually occupied the latter stages of the season, however, at the Australian Grand Prix there were suggestions in the paddock that Melbourne and Singapore could be paired up.
Singapore GP Vice-Chairman Colin Syn was present at Albert Park, a point Westacott dismissed as common practice.
“We don’t read anything of Singapore being in [Melbourne] because they always go down here, we always have people going up there [because] it’s so close,” said the Australian GP boss.
“We work very closely with Colin Syn and the guys here, so I wouldn’t read any of that.
“There’s always been a situation where whether it’s in MotoGP with Japan, Malaysia and Australia, we’ve had China-Australia [in Formula 1]sort of while we’re in this region, if you have to travel far to the other side of the world, and that makes sense,” he added of the sport’s logistical considerations.
“There may be other circuits. I even heard rumors that Malaysia would be interested in it, you know.
“But I think the logistics and planning on a 23-race, or even 24-race calendar next year is going to be difficult and it depends on Formula 1.
“If it’s easier having something else in the area, then that’s it, that’s a good one.”
As Speedcafe.com revealed last October, Australia doesn’t have a “permanent” slot on the schedule like it once did when it opened the season.
Next year, the event may host the opening round, depending on how F1 officials choose to meet the challenge presented by Ramadan in the Middle East.
Another option is to simply start the season earlier, so that Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are finished before March 23, when Ramadan begins.
Delaying those races would mean they couldn’t take place until the end of April, when daytime temperatures in the Middle East soar towards 30 degrees, from the mid-20s as seen in March. .
Melbourne is therefore likely to appear on the 2023 F1 calendar no earlier than the last weekend of March, but more realistically at some point in April, and twinned with the returning Chinese Grand Prix for logistical efficiencies.
Australia has a contract to host F1 until 2025, with Westacott previously saying conversations over his future are ongoing.
“We’re still talking about the future, but nothing is finalized or done,” he said of conversations with F1 boss Stefano Domenicali following this year’s Australian GP.
“What he does is [offer] an assurance from Stefano and all of these teams, whether it’s the marketing team, the partnerships team, the whole technical team, they say, “Wow, that was fantastic, that was a fantastic show, delivered from professional way”.
“I’m so proud of the AGPC team, and it’s a professional partnership that we have [with F1].
“So it just reaffirms that all the things we’ve done in the past have improved thanks to the absence of COVID, and that’s great for Melbourne and that’s great for the relationship going forward with Formula 1.”
Phillip Island is set to host MotoGP from October 14-16, six months after Melbourne hosted Formula 1.