Sandown is on standby as the future of the 2021 Australian Grand Prix looks increasingly shaky.
There is zero chance of Formula One cars running at the suburban Melbourne circuit, but Supercars could pivot from Albert Park to Sandown to keep this year’s series running smoothly.
It’s an open secret in Supercars that Sandown is ‘first reserve’ for the 2021 championship and some teams are already making plans to race there on the March 21 weekend instead of at the AGP.
“We have a plan for Sandown. That’s what we’re thinking,” one Supercars team boss tells Race News.
On the grand prix front, European F1 sources are indicating that Australia’s strict quarantine requirements for overseas arrivals will be a deal breaker.
The day after the Queensland government rebutted hopes for a quarantine exemption for the Indian cricket team, there appears to be zero chance of any exemption for Formula One.
Without an exemption, the two-week hotel quarantine would appear to be a deal breaker for F1.
Even the latest social media post by the Australian Grand Prix includes the line “Subject to final FIA, F1 and Victorian Government approval” alongside the tagline ‘Live Fast’.
As yet, tickets have not gone on sale for the AGP and there is no sign of the major construction work that usually begins by the end of January to prepare Albert Park for its annual grand prix.
It now seems almost certain, as predicted by Race News back in October, that the race will be at least postponed and Bahrain will open the F1 season for 2021.
There is potential for a later date for the race, with a To Be Confirmed slot in April which would have been the Vietnamese grand prix, but even the later timing is no certainty without a relaxation of Covid quarantine in Australia. Construction of the Albert Park track could also cause Covid concerns in February.
Meantime, Sandown is now squarely in the sights of Supercars teams.
If Sandown becomes the second round of the Supercars championship, after the Bathurst 500 in February, it would also affect the plans for supporting categories including Carrera Cup and perhaps S5000 single-seaters.