There may never be a post-COVID normal, but at least we've got this on the way: F1 is back in Australia!
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Charlie Bullis • The Australian Grand Prix will retain its status as the opening race of the 2021 Formula 1 season, following the announcement of next year's calendar.

The preliminary schedule released by Formula 1 yesterday, names Melbourne’s Albert Park as the host for Round 1 from 18-21 March 2021.

It’s welcome news for race fans and Victoria’s recovering economy, following the late cancellation of the 2020 event earlier this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO, Andrew Westcott, said: “We’re thrilled that the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship will commence at its traditional home here in Melbourne.

“We continue to work closely with health authorities and the Victorian Government as we develop our plans for fan attendance, which will be announced when finalised.”

It will be the busiest year on record for the championship, with the provisional timetable reporting 23 rounds within 10 months.

It includes a head-spinning six races in seven weeks from Belgium’s Spa Francorchamps on Aug 29, Zandvoort in the Netherlands on September 5, then across to Italy’s Monza circuit the week after. The teams will then have a seven-day turnaround to race at Sochi in Russia before heading to Singapore on October 3.

The seven-week blitz will finish at the Suzuka circuit in Japan on October 10, earning the crews a well-deserved break ahead of Round 19 in Austin, Texas.

The schedule also confirmed the addition of Saudi Arabia to the Formula 1 ticket for the first time, seeing the city of Jeddah’s Corniche coastal road hosting a night race along the banks of the Red Sea.

Albert Park will host the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix for the 25th time next year, since making its Melbourne debut in 1996. A long-standing fixture on the calendar, the 2021 race will be the last time the current configuration is used before resurfacing and subtle design changes happen later in the year.

Australian Grand Prix Corporation Chairman, Paul Little AO, said: “Major events like the Grand Prix will play a vital role in stimulating Victoria’s economic recovery in 2021 and we look forward to putting Melbourne back on the map to a global audience in March.”

Event arrangements and ticket sales for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix will be announced in coming weeks.