Formula 1 expects Albert Park to host the 2021 season-opener in March as the sport slowly begins to piece together its calendar puzzle.
A race in Melbourne will ease concerns that the Victorian state would have to have its marquee event dropped in favour of another circuit, most likely The Bend in South Australia, for 2021.
Instead, the F1 circus will travel to Melbourne in March after a pre-season test which is understood to have been shifted from Barcelona to Bahrain.
Barring another pandemic-induced interference, Melbourne will then kick off a season which could have as many as 23 Grands Prix.
“The Australian Grand Prix Corporation is in regular dialogue with Formula 1 on the 2021 provisional calendar, which will be published in the coming weeks,” said Australian Grand Prix Corporation boss Andrew Westacott.
“Melbourne will again host the F1 season opener in the traditional March timeslot, which will form a significant part of the recovery of the major sports and events industry in Victoria.”
Any race will be subject to the closure and opening of Australia’s international borders. On Monday, the Bathurst 12 Hour race, a race which requires significant travel from both national and international participants, was cancelled as a consequence of the closed borders.
Many of the venues that were initially slated for the 2020 calendar and were subsequently cancelled due to the pandemic are set to reappear.
Both Spain and Brazil are yet to renew their contracts beyond the end of the current season. Still, Spanish Grand Prix organisers are reportedly eager to sign a new deal with Fernando Alonso returning to Renault and Carlos Sainz making a move to Ferrari.
It is a murkier situation for Brazil, however, with F1 striking a deal to have the race moved from Interlagos to Rio de Janeiro.
But construction of a new circuit in time for 2021 in is still dependent on an environmental licence. If this unachievable, a Brazilian Grand Prix is unlikely to go ahead next year.
A new race in Saudi Arabia is primed as a replacement race. A brand-new purpose-built facility is expected to be constructed by 2023, but F1 could use the street circuit currently used in the Formula E championship.