Grand Prix boss claims F1 won’t see similar visa drama to Novak Djokovic at Australian Open

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Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open visa issues dominated the news agenda last week, but Formula 1’s boss says those scenes will not be replicated in his sport when the new season gets underway.

Djokovic was deported last week, following the cancellation of his visa.

The issue arose after it transpired that the Serbian, who has not been vaccinated against Covid-19, tested positive on 16th December and did not isolate afterwards, instead deciding to attend an interview and photo shoot.

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Grand Prix CEO Andrew Westacott has assured fans that a similar incident will not have any direct impact on the upcoming Australian event, which is scheduled to take place in Melbourne on April 10th.

Westacott said: “We’ve worked very closely with the Victorian government throughout 2021 and in the lead up to 2022. And of course we’ve worked very, very closely with Formula 1.

“The rules are simple to get into the country and the rules are simple to operate in Formula 1. To come in for the event you’ll be 100 percent vaccinated and there won’t be exemptions sought for anyone, from anyone.

“Formula 1 has recognised around the world that they always need to comply with the rules at the borders for the jurisdictions in which they race. They’ve raced in 41 locations since Melbourne in 2020 and we’re going to be welcoming them into the country. The know the rules and we’re very, very comfortable with that.”

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He added: “I think it goes without saying they will be a 100 percent vaccination and compliant with the laws. And that means when they come here to Melbourne they’re going to be operating in a very, very safe regime. That’s an underlined, defined position.

“Our arrangements have been in place well before the recent goings on with the Australian Open. We’ve worked very closely with the federal government, the state government, Formula 1 and the FIA for probably a year and a half on this.”

The 2022 Formula 1 season is due to get underway in Bahrain in March, but is still shrouded in mystery. It is still unknown whether or not seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton will take part due to scenes we saw at the end of last season, where Max Verstappen beat him to the title in dramatic fashion.

The Dutch driver and Hamilton were both equal on points heading in to the Abu Dhabi GP, and then controversy struck as Nicholas Latifi crashed which caused a safety car to be deployed. When the track was ruled safe, race director Michael Masi allowed some cars to unlap themselves and others not.

This allowed Verstappen, who had fresher tires, to overtake Hamilton and claim his first world title.

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