Daniel Ricciardo has thrown up the idea of Formula One holding two races in Melbourne this year, in the event the scheduled round in Brazil can’t proceed.
Sao Paulo is on the calendar to host a race on November 7, just a fortnight before the Melbourne event, but the COVID-19 situation in Brazil means that is in some doubt.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Brazil recorded 71,137 new cases yesterday, and 3,076 deaths.
Over the course of the pandemic, the country has 14.3 million infections and 390,000 deaths, making it one of the hardest hit countries in the world.
“I think if we were scheduled to go there this weekend, then yeah, I’m pretty convinced it would be up in the air.
“For now, they’re kind of on the hope that by then things settle down but if it’s still as it is, then that that race could potentially be in question.”
If Brazil was unable to go ahead, Ricciardo acknowledged that those that run F1 would likely be looking for replacement events.
In 2020, Austria, England and Bahrain ran races on consecutive weekends, and the Australian said that could be an option again this year.
“They’re obviously keen on 23 [races] this year,” he added.
“A bit like last year, I’m sure there are some circuits, call it, that could fill some gaps if some are lost.
“So, we’ll see, maybe a double-header in Australia!”
Melbourne missed out on a race in 2020, with the event cancelled just hours before practice was due to begin as the start of the pandemic sent the world into lockdown.
Given the distance the F1 personnel travel to get to Melbourne, Ricciardo says the opportunity to stay in Australia would likely prove popular.
“If there is any form of quarantine when we get there, to do a double-header would make the time worthwhile,” he said.
“Hopefully we get a bit of time in Oz, as opposed to quarantine (and then) circuit (only).”
Australian Grand Prix boss Andrew Westacott recently told Wide World of Sports that he’s hoping to have a grand prix bubble in place when the teams arrive in November, pointing out that it’s an arrangement that’s worked since F1 resumed last July.
But it’s also an option that’s unlikely to well received by the Australian public, especially if the Brazilian race is able to proceed.
“They (F1) have a very, very rigorous schedule that won’t accommodate separate quarantine periods in every one of the jurisdictions where they race,” Westacott said.
“What we’ve got to do, in consultation with the health authorities, Formula One, and the government, is an arrangement where they will come into a separated bubble, with no interaction with the general public, to be able to operate between the hotel and the circuit only.
“This bubble approach needs to have a lot of involvement with the health authorities but they’ve done it very successfully overseas; they have a zero-tolerance approach to COVID-19.”
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