South Australia to step in if Melbourne can't host 2021 Formula 1 GP
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South Australia has put its hand up to host the 2021 Grand Prix if Melbourne is unable to, Premier Steven Marshall said.
Mr Marshall said while the state would not poach the event, it was ready if Melbourne was ruled out because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We don’t have the ability to put together a street circuit which would be suitable for Formula One, but Formula One requires a different type of circuit for what we have for Supercars in SA. The only option for Formula One to come to SA would be at The Bend,” he said.
Mr Marshall said the two-year-old track, located 100km southeast of Adelaide, was one of the best racing circuits in the world.
“There’s no doubt The Bend is world class,” he said.
“It’s state of the art, it uses the best technology, and I think we’re in a good position if the Melbourne Grand Prix doesn’t go ahead. If there is the requirement, SA stands ready.”
It was announced on Monday The Bend track owners, the Shahin family, were preparing to host two Supercars rounds on September 19-20 and 26-27.
Angus Mitchell, who started the Sports Car Drivers SA club, said hosting the Grand Prix at The Bend would be safer than on a street circuit.
The bend holds a Grade 2 FIA circuit licence — the second highest. FIA gradings are based on the suitability of the circuit for different types and groups of cars and range from one to six.
“That's what they intended to do when they built that track and that’s what they were aiming for,” Mr Mitchell said.
“Purpose-built circuits are better because there is more margin for error (on street circuits) and you can get better racing because the drivers will be pushing harder.
“I've raced at The Bend and it’s an impressive facility.
“The Melbourne Grand Prix is good but we can do things better in SA.”
Mr Mitchell, 37, said loving cars ran in the family with his 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son already showing interest.
He remembers going to the Adelaide Grand Prix with his father as a 12-year-old.
“There was a carnival-sort of atmosphere and a feeling of excitement with all the international people around,” he said.
“At the last GP in Adelaide, I was right in front of the pits when Damon Hill collided with a wall. It was pretty good.”
Between 1985 and 1995, Adelaide hosted the Grand Prix before it moved to Albert Park in Melbourne in 1996.
This year’s event at Albert Park was shut down following a positive test of coronavirus.
All preparations were finalised and teams had already travelled to Melbourne before pulling the plug.
At the time, F1 issued a statement that read: “Following the confirmation that a member of the McLaren Racing Team has tested positive for COVID-19 and the team’s decision to withdraw from the Australian Grand Prix, the FIA and Formula One convened a meeting of the other nine team principals on Thursday evening.
“Those discussions concluded with a majority view of the teams that the race should not go ahead.
“Formula One and the FIA, with the full support of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC), have therefore taken the decision that all Formula One activity for the Australian Grand Prix are cancelled.
“The safety of all members of the Formula One family and the wider community as well as the fairness of the competition take priority.”