The Australian Grand Prix got canceled and then rescheduled for November this year, before that got canceled too, leaving a fresh hole in Formula 1's calendar. It sounds like Qatar might be its replacement.
I say “sounds like” because every time I read a new story about Formula 1's schedule this year it becomes glaringly obvious that, even those in the know at Formula 1, are unsure as to how the season play out, new virus spikes and all that. This year’s Japanese Grand Prix was also just canceled last week.
Here’s the latest from Motorsport.com:
F1 officials have been working to find a replacement for the Australian Grand Prix that was originally scheduled for 21 November, with the slot remaining ‘TBA’ on the current calendar.
But plans are now advancing for Qatar to fill the gap and host its first F1 grand prix in November, according to multiple sources, that would act as a boost to the schedule and hopes to fulfil the planned 23-race season.
The Losail International Circuit holds an FIA Grade 1 licence required to stage F1 events, and has been a mainstay on the MotoGP calendar since 2004, serving as the venue for the opening two rounds of the season earlier this year.
It has also staged World Superbike and World Touring Car Championship rounds, but has not hosted a high-profile single-seater event since 2009 when GP2 Asia raced at Losail. The circuit has full lighting that would allow for a night race to take place, as seen with its MotoGP events.
So now, maybe, a grand prix in Qatar this year, which would join the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to finish out the season in the Middle East. Motorsport.com also says that Formula 1 isn’t sure if the grands prix in the U.S., scheduled for October 22-24; Mexico, for October 29-31; or Brazil, for November 5-7, will ultimately go off either.
In the case of Mexico and Brazil, that is because those countries are on the U.K.’s red list for travel purposes, which would mean that Formula 1 teams based in the U.K. would have to quarantine for 10 days upon return, which would make keeping the tight schedule of F1's international circus even more complicated. Turkey, which is scheduled to host a grand prix October 1-3, is also on that list but the grand prix appears to be still on there for now, though Motorsport.com says a decision on that likely won’t be made till next month.
The U.S., meanwhile, is not on the U.K.’s red list, but the grand prix here is planned for the Circuit of the Americas in Texas, a state in which there is currently a surge in coronavirus cases. It also has a governor who isn’t interested in helping with that.
That could get better, or that could get worse. Formula 1, like the rest of us, will be forced to react either way. Also, related: today, the Food and Drug Administration announced it approved the Pfizer vaccine for those 16 and older; if you are in that category and still unvaxxed, I fear you have no excuses left.