With the future of the 2021 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park still up in arms, Tailem Bend has re-emphasised their availability to act as a substitute venue if required.
Yesterday, news broke that the Australian Grand Prix on March 21 could be postponed as Victoria grapples with a new wave of Covid-19 cases.
Strict state border measures coupled with an influx in cases of a new coronavirus strain in the UK – where seven of the ten Formula 1 teams are based – has put the race in limbo.
A postponement of the race would trigger a significant overhaul of the already cramped 23-race schedule. Any chance of an alternative date would be shelved until at least the second half of the season.
It means that the FIA could instead seek different host circuits where forming a safe travel bubble and ‘biosphere’ for team personnel would be easier.
Currently, Victoria has 38 active cases of Covid-19, which includes 27 community transmission cases.
By contrast, South Australia has four active cases, all of whom are returnees from New South Wales and are in a managed isolation facility.
Thus, South Australia’s Tailem Bend circuit says they remain open to the idea of hosting this year’s race should the Melbourne event be canned.
“Our position is unchanged from 2020, meaning, yes, absolutely, we’d love to host the F1,” a spokesperson from The Bend said today.
“We haven’t approached F1 about this and are unlikely to as it is really up to them. But we will work with the FIA for our regular track activities, so they’re well aware of our willingness if the need arises.
“The Bend can be upgraded to meet FIA Grade 1 requirements fairly rapidly as we have intentionally built the circuit with this in mind.”
Circuit owner Dr Sam Shahin said in an interview last year during Victoria’s first wave of cases that The Bend would be the ideal venue for the Grand Prix if Melbourne were forced to waive this year’s event.
“We will definitely be thinking about putting our hand up,” he said.
“The Bend Motorsport Park is a unique development. There is nothing on the planet that resembles it. There is no facility like it anywhere in the world. After 12 months of operation, it won the 2019 international motorsport facility of the year.
“The short answer is it can hold a Formula 1 event if we get the opportunity. There will be work that needs to be done, but none of it is beyond us.
“We’ve shown that we’re not afraid of putting our hat in the ring and taking on a challenge so why not.”