With the evolving situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, Formula One is currently evaluating replacements for the Australian Grand Prix that was supposed to be held in November. Qatar and Sakhir are now emerging as possible alternatives.
Liberty Media is determined to maintain the 23-races calendar and the Australian, Brazilian, and Japanese Grands Prix are still uncertain but alternatives such as a doubleheader in the US or races in the Middle East are ready if needed.
According to Auto Motor und Sport, the confirmation as to whether the Japanese Grand Prix will go ahead is expected for the 10th of August at the latest as the overseas containers need to be sent out. Currently, the MotoGP and WEC races have been canceled but the Olympics are progressing forward with very strict rules. If Suzuka will be called off, a doubleheader in Austin looks like the most probable alternative.
Following the Northern American races, F1 will move to Mexico and Brazil. For travelers coming from South America quarantine is currently mandatory. Furthermore, considering the Australian GP was programmed for November, all the European tracks are unlikely to be considered as alternatives for the high risk of bad weather. Hence, the Middle East, where no quarantine is necessary and the weather is favorable, seems the easier alternative.
At the moment the two options considered are either the Bahrain outer layout or Qatar. Even though the Sakhir layout provided brilliant racing in 2020, the fans don’t seem too enthusiastic about the possible return of Bahrain and F1 seemed keen on diversifying tracks. On the other side, the Losail International Circuit already hosted two MotoGP races this year and seems very interested in welcoming the Circus. It’s important to notice how Qatar in recent years has been investing in hosting major sports events, such as the FIFA World Cup fixed for 2022, and might be willing to offer Formula 1 an attractive amount of money.