FIA "well aware" of The Bend Australian GP interest
South Australian circuit The Bend has confirmed the FIA is "well aware" of the venue's availability to act as a substitute for the Australian Grand Prix should Covid-19 restrictions make it impossible to run the event in Melbourne as planned.
In March last year, F1 was forced to call off the race at the 11th hour after a member of the McLaren team tested positive for coronavirus ahead of the event.
At this stage, there is no consideration to it being cancelled again, with the plan to find a slot when the coronavirus situation has eased, although there are few available weekends in what is a record-breaking 23-race calendar.
Officials at The Bend, located 65 miles outside of former grand prix venue Adelaide, have indicated they are willing to step into the breach should Melbourne continue to face difficulties, particularly as its remote location could make it easier for F1 to safely operate within the bubbles formed last year.
A spokesperson for The Bend told GPFans Global: "Our position is unchanged from 2020, meaning, yes, absolutely, we’d love to host the F1.
"We haven’t approached F1 about this and are unlikely to as it is really up to them. We work with the FIA for our regular track activities so they’re well aware of our willingness if the need arises."
Although the circuit only currently holds an FIA Grade 2 safety licence, the spokesperson added: "The Bend can be upgraded to meet FIA Grade 1 requirements fairly rapidly as we have intentionally built the circuit with this in mind."
Managing director of The Bend, Dr Sam Shahin, has made no secret of his desire to see F1 return to South Australia for the first time since Melbourne replaced Adelaide as the host venue in 1996.
In a recent interview with Auto Action, however, Shahin made clear his current interest is simply in ensuring a race does take place in the country this year.
“I am a proud South Australian, but I am a prouder Australian and I want to see the pinnacle of world motorsport come to Australia, irrespective of which city they attend,” he said.
“There is a lot of history and a lot of expertise in South Australia, and I am quite certain that should the opportunity arise we will be delighted to throw our hat in the ring.
“If it doesn’t, I will still be equally delighted and proud to attend the next Australian Formula 1 event in Melbourne.”
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